Day 285: Our Economic Sickness

Artwork by Marlen Vargas del Razo

This week I was sick with a cold and fever. I spent my time at home between my bed sleeping, and my chair where I would watch movies and do a little reading on my computer. Everyone reading this can relate to the experience of being home sick, feeling really, really crappy. Maybe with the flu, puking in the toilet and feeling like you’re gonna die, or burning with fever, feeling like you’re gonna die, or maybe a really bad sore throat, or cough, or perhaps something even worse that lasts into the weeks.

And I’m sure that everyone can relate to at some point during your sickness, in the midst of all your suffering, having the experience of being so so so glad that at least you’re at home, in a comfortable place, where you can ride it out. And, those reading this blog will also be able to relate to how easy it is to access medicine that can, in most cases alleviate really uncomfortable symptoms. I mean it’s as easy as a short drive to your choice of local supermarket or drugstore. In a rich country, when you have a job, and an income, and a place to live, and can afford all the basic creature comforts, it’s more or less pretty easy to cope with your run of the mill illness. In fact most of us would agree it’s a great time to get some rest and take some time off work, right?

But what about those who don’t have access to all that nice stuff like a comfortable home, plumbing, electricity, the right kinds of foods, medicines, internet, computers? It’s people in such conditions, that who truly experience the depths of physical pain, discomfort, and suffering, that really show me where we’re at as a society. I place myself in their place. I swap places with them — and that’s where I see what’s real. That’s where I see that our current economic value system does not support life. And that’s also where I look at my own life, my own resources – and see how astoundingly great they are by comparison. But do I feel grateful? Does it make me happy to have what I have access to? No. Because to feel happy about what I have, while another — equal to me as Life, goes without what I’d want for myself, and has no chance at the kind of life I have — I mean I’d have to separate myself from that person. I’d have to remove them from my world, from that which I see as part of me. I’d have to in some way convince myself that it’s simply not my concern. I’d be putting myself in a bubble. And I mean that’s so easy to do when you have money. But really, to anyone reading this, who would be okay swapping places with someone in the most dire poverty, right in the middle of say, a nasty bout of stomach flu? What if there was no toilet? No medicine? No plumbing? No electricity? No comfy bed? Would anyone want to do that?

Now imagine, with an effective guaranteed living income system, we could eliminate such conditions from planet Earth. Therefore to me, dedicating myself to supporting the research, development and implementation of such a system in the name of basic human rights, is to me far more relevant than feeling happy about what I have in the face of others who have nothing.

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