There is the meme floating about on the internet that goes like this:“If Methadone is free for addicts because they have a disease… Why is chemo not free for cancer patients?”
There are so many memes, comments and similar sayings proliferating out in cyberland. I wonder if the poster truly thought about the intent when they shared its “wisdom”. In this case, were they arguing for free-health-care-for-all, a single-payor system of health care or were they saying one population was more deserving than another?
What if the meme’s message was more positive and inclusive? “Methadone is free for addicts because they have a disease “and” since cancer is also a disease, let’s work towards free chemo!”
The message doesn’t incite a them-against-us attitude and it ends in a call to action. Unlike the other meme, there is no question, there is no sense of victimization (why is such a tricky word), there is a call to work for a solution.
I’m not saying that the second meme “works” from an effective marketing point of view. Fear and anger are effective weapons and, when you can direct these at an “enemy” then the “marketing’ can draw others who are fearful or angry at that enemy. In the case of the first meme – anger directed at the addict, the “inherent unfairness” at the “innocent” cancer patient being victimized by resources being taken from the innocent to the guilty addict.
Here, the energy builds away from a solution towards a for and against the “other” – addict or cancer patient? What if we worked for both – the addict and the cancer patient? Why must it be one group or another?
Ah, Americans… is there not enough for all? Must we always find someone to blame or vilify? Could we look at these things, the rush of information and think, hmmm…?
I betcha if we really dig deep or if we really believed that the bucket of goodness was infinite and overflowing, we might actually find out that its true. You can have it all and guess what, so can the person next to you on the subway.
And this isn’t just about one of the more milder memes but really about the whole concept of inclusion. “And” is such a powerful word. You and your neighbor can have it all. We should work towards peace and harmony without demonizing a group or person to motivate us to seek solutions rather than rest comfortably with the problem.
It takes three things – 1) the willingness to look at things differently, 2) to practice drawing from the infinite bucket of goodness, and; 3) envisioning that everyone has access to that bucket and when they dip their hands in and grab a bit of the good stuff, the bucket fills and maybe, even overflows.
One Spirit Interfaith Interspiritual Seminary, Class of 2017