Americans' weak sense of civic duty hurts health reform

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:05 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

It may be just a matter of civics.

I am still thinking about these health care protesters who are disrupting the town hall meetings. Many people are trying to figure out the various health care bills and are serious about wanting to learn all they can about the differences between them. The protesters have no ambitions except to disrupt. By doing so, they believe they can stop any bill from being passed.

So, I was guessing that perhaps these people never learned about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. We frequently hear that education in many school systems is poorly administered and so I think it's wrong to assume that all schools still have civics classes.

Those doing the screaming and hollering really don't care about the health care situation in America. Obviously, they all have good coverage and if other people don't, they don't care. They are not worried about having to go to the emergency room at a hospital and having to wait for hours for service because the number of people who do not have private doctors is so enormous that their only method of getting treatment for whatever ails them is to go to the emergency room, because they cannot be turned away. It doesn't seem to occur to these protesters that as taxpayers they have to pay the bill for these uninsured individuals.

The fact that they are uncaring is plain to see and unfortunate. I expect this trend will grow, however, as we as a society become more isolated and detached from one another. I believe it all began with the break up of the family unit. So nowadays the tendency is for most of us to see ourselves as groups of separate individuals more than as a social entity united by a common bond.

One would have thought that the weak economy would have brought people closer together. Instead, it seems to have driven a lot of people into a personal shell and caused them to turn their backs on the rest of the world. These people are motivated by fear of failure, hoping that what they see happening to others will not happen to them. They don't view foreclosure and bankruptcy as just major financial crises but as a loss of social status from which they can never recover.

I think that when the military draft ended in 1973, some began to think that freedom was free. I feel that the country would have been better off if, instead of just resorting to volunteer armed forces, Congress had instituted some form of national service. If it is true that the volunteer armed services are made up of people at the low end of the economic scale, it is all the more reason why everyone should share in service to country.

There are many people who have no family members or friends in military service, therefore they are making no sacrifice at all to ensure that America remains a democratic republic. Consequently, they feel no sense of responsibility. This has resulted in a society that feels no sense of commitment to neighborhood, community or country.

Being one's brother's keeper is an idea that has disappeared down the drain.

Since that is the case, I certainly hope people are prepared for the rise in cost of insurance premiums and medications that will take place if there is no health care reform. These corporations will feel that they have won the battle and no one can put a stop to them. With so many people out of work and unable to afford private insurance, the situation with health care costs will only get worse.

These corporate capitalists understand that we're all standing alone and they have nothing to fear. They are not worried about us coming together to fight for a common cause. We have truly become an "it's all about me" society where everyone stands on his own feet and fights his own battle for fairness and equality.

Civics taught us that in spite of our many differences of race, gender and economic class, we all salute the same flag and pledge allegiance to the same country. And when it comes to the crisis in health care, we are all in it together. The fact that some Americans have lost their way is a clear indication of what happens when we begin to think of our well being apart from the country's. That may work in the short term but in the long run, our fate is tied to our neighbors.

Like it or not, that's what citizenship is all about.


You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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