Charlie Gard

Side-Note on a Current Event: The Charlie Gard Case

I hesitated writing this. I thought about being vague as to my specific topic so as not to be part of the problem I intended to point out.I also wanted to be vague because I am a coward and didn’t want to be accused of insensitivity.

But it seems like the politicization of this tragedy was built on the security that any critic could be easily villainized. It is that security that I think is worth talking about. Because we are becoming less and less able to critique without an instant ad hominem backlash. It is possible, even in the most emotionally charged cases, to hold a different opinion and not be a monster.  If we reach the point that we are no longer capable of seeing our opinions as composites of millions of assumptions. If we automatically treat the questioning of any one of those assumptions as an assault on our whole person and our entire moral code, that is not just bad for politics, that sets up our society for the most bitter, pigheaded, and inefficient kind of discord. America is broken and this is not the way we fix it.

The sickest part of this case to me is how little it seems to be about the suffering of the actual people in the middle of it. This is a horrible case and a devastating loss for the family. I could not possibly comprehend the pain. I will not try to. Nor will I do them the disservice of making a grandstanding statement about the pain which I can not possibly comprehend.

It is not heartless to say that the politicization of this tragedy has nothing to do with the people affected by it. I think it is nieve to be unsuspicious of the attention this case has received from US outlets while the future of US Healthcare hangs in the balance. I have seen so many manipulative headlines which use the pain of actual people to draw an unnuanced view of an extremely difficult situation. This lack of nuance makes it easier to find villains where the political narrative would like them to be. Namely, in Socialized Healthcare. In the US, public opinion is warming to the notion but if that nuanced system can become a big, bad, one-dimensional enemy then it might cool.

It’s best in emotionally charged situations to give all parties, if not the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of humanity.  It is unreasonable to assume that any human being does not experience emotional life in the same way that you do. It is irrational to believe that the people who behave in a way you don’t like do so because they are incapable of empathy or because they are evil. I can say without reservation that nobody involved in this case wanted a child to suffer. I can say this because the idea of a simple evil defies logic. All humans experience emotions. Evil is never simple.

I do this too. I want to stop doing this. I unequivocally hate some of the things that are happening in this country. But do not think that evil things are ever the fault of one dastardly villain. It would be simpler if I could believe that because there would be an easy solution to evil. Unfortunately, in reality, evil is diffused. Evil is structural. Evil is a million tiny assumptions.

I do not have an opinion about the Charlie Gard case. I don’t think I have the right to an opinion here. It is not my family and it is not my country.

But I do have an opinion on what this case has come to represent in this country and I think the simple narrative has gotten it completely wrong. This is far from a simple matter but there is one simple truth; In America, after the tragedy would come the bankruptcy. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that every day in this country families are denied life-saving medical services because they must choose between their health and their ability to make ends meet. We do not have the luxury of choice, in fact, with privatized health insurance there is a de facto denial of care to anyone but the rich. We have the luxury of choice only in that the choice to preserve our health is considered a luxury. I do not consider Single Payer to be the perfect solution, that would come without complexities and faults but I do consider it to be the best solution.