Thursday, August 12, 2010
A Firestorm of Controversy: Spoiled Rotten
The group is one for diabetics, and the thread started with an innocent enough comment by someone who'd traveled outside the country and run out of insulin. Having to buy it out of pocket from a local pharmacy, she paid an enormous amount for the small vial. Truth is, if you have diabetes, you pay what you have to for insulin, because it keeps you alive.
Her comment though, was that she realized how spoiled she was in the United States with her insurance because she only pays a small co-pay here.
That was it.
You'd have thought she'd written something incendiary with the intent of starting World War III. If there were more diabetics on the yahoo group, I have no doubt WWIII wouldn't have been far behind.
The word spoiled, apparently, is a highly loaded word to which many people take offense. It lends a vision of Paris Hilton and pampered dogs and having too much you didn't work for and having no gratitude for that stuff.
The emails began flying. "I pay good money for my insurance. That isn't spoiled, that's working hard." "I can't take my family to Disney World because we spend that money on insurance and co-pays to keep me alive." "How dare you say we're spoiled because Medicare pays for insulin? Taking care of those who can't care for themselves is government's job!"
When someone people started mentioning how good we have it in comparison to other countries where people actually don't have access to medication, someone else wrote back this:
"Some people are dead. Am I supposed to be thankful I'm alive?"
Ummm..... Yes. Yes you are.
Is this not the most basic principle of gratitude? That every morning we wake up and we are gifted with another day? I can only think this man has never lost anyone he's loved, or come close to losing his own life, and for that, even he should be thankful.
Life is precarious. Every breath can be your last. In the two years I've known two people - both young (one in his early 20s) – who died in their sleep. Two who were murdered in their own house by an intruder. One who, while walking across his kitchen to get a cup of coffee, had a brain aneurism and fell to the floor unconscious.
Every day people die in car accidents. People are diagnosed with incurable illnesses. People who are otherwise completely healthy, have a tiny part of their body give out with catastrophic side-effects.
In many countries, walking down the street can get you killed. Sleeping in your house can get you killed.
There are people without food. People for whom clean, drinking water is not an option.
So yes. Yes you should be grateful you are alive. And yes, we in the United States are spoiled. Even if we don't have all we want, the majority of us have what we need.
If being spoiled means having more than what we need and not being grateful for it, I think we are spoiled. I grumble when I have to shell out money for insulin and test strips and pump supplies. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, I'd love to do something more fun with that money. But I am ever grateful for the ability to have them.
Even on my worst days, I'm glad to be alive, and grateful there is the promise of another day that might be better.