The study of ethics is as old as good and evil itself. It’s funny how the basic concepts of right and wrong still elude us as a species. The virtuous and the not so virtuous still are as big a mystery to us as they were to our cave dwelling ancestors. At its core, western ethical behavior is broken down into two separate categories. Actions and outcomes. This is where things get a bit tricky. This is where the road to hell gets paved with good intentions. This is where one man’s terrorist becomes another man’s freedom fighter. This is where the subjectivity of human intellect, emotion, motivation and delusion overrides the objectivity of life, death and, as it turns out, taxes.
Recently, I found myself hooked up to an infusion tower in a hospital infusion room surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes, alignment and persuasion. All of us had two things in common. A needle stuck in our chests and the desire to get better. Whatever better meant. For some it meant cured. For others, not worse. One more day of life. Once more day of sunshine. One more day of pain and possibly of suffering. But without that extra day, without the promise of a tomorrow, there is nothing but the view from the bottom of a deep, dark well, looking up at the light moving ever so much farther away until…
I remember seeing Trump, McConnell and Ryan in a photo-op from hell moment on the news. They were all paling around about to take a victory lap. Why? Because they thought they were going to kill the Affordable Care Act and take us back to a time when healthcare/insurance was unaffordable, uncaring and placed profits above even the most basic of all that is self-evident to the human condition. Everyone gets sick and everyone dies. But in the meantime, how were they going to pay for those massive tax cuts they were more than willing to give the wealthiest of those among us? This is called principled conservatism by some. I call it the most obvious example of blatant misplaced, inhuman in and of itself manifestation of self-hatred and loathing, mistaken for self-interest disguised as “policy” this world has seen at least since the days of World War II.
I was sick that day. Very sick. But I watched the vote very aware the cancer medicine alone was damn expensive. I had more than skin in this game. I waited for Senator John McCain. The undecided one, as if there was an actual decision needing to be made except the obvious one. But here we were. I remember thinking, would he do the right thing? Nothing more, just the right thing. People living for that one more day, that one more spike of poison running through our veins? Or would he take that away for nothing more than fulfilling a dark, inhuman philosophy that utilizes poverty as a “sin” so great as to justify the end a human life?
They call politics the “art of the possible.” I call it what it is: A dishonest and disgraceful excuse for “was that the best you could do?” You feel that? Yes, you do. We all knew what was the right thing to do. John McCain knew, too. And then he rose above the politics of it all. One last time.