By Katherine LloydSpending a week abroad in Costa Rica did not fail in providing culture shock for a young woman from Long Island. Among the extensive natural beauty, the kindness of its residents, and the various outdoor activities, my most intriguing activity in Costa Rica was a conversation between myself and an Austrian backpacker at a bar in the town of Domincal.
While my sister and this backpacker’s acquaintance engaged in a discussion, my friend and I sat on bar stools alongside a billiard table sharing our experiences in foreign countries with Lucas, 23 from Austria.
The conversation took a political turn when the young gentleman teasingly uttered, “I heard the laws on weapons are lenient in the United States. Do you ladies carry guns?”
We laughed and briefly explained our bill of rights, and the different ways to interpret our country’s constitution.
While Lucas was puzzled about our second amendment, this conversation led to a chat involving health care reform in the United States, which naturally evolved into a critical analysis of our president’s time spent in the White House thus far.
After the political segment was concluded, we spoke about society, pop culture, and music. When my party and I retired for the evening, I was left with my own thoughts. The motif of our dialogue was excess, capitalism, and ignorance; therefore, I couldn’t help but ask myself a disturbing question; are we perceived as greedy gun-toting narcissists? If my predictions are true, the nation’s youth need to give this country a makeover.
The sub cultural war for years has been on capitalism, greed, and the distortion of what a human should value; however, it has taken a turn with Obama’s presidency, in which youths along with elders fear there is some underlying “master plan” the president has for our country.
For those who succeed at staying up to speed with sub-cultural trends, this shift in political thought threw many for a loop. While it is understandable to feel threatened by our government (especially exiting the Bush administration), and without feeding into the hoopla about being right or left winged, we must recognize a vital issue ; the way one values the dollar has distorted the way one values health, livelihood, and genuine happiness.
The choice of whether to value money overall is one’s prerogative, alongside the way one views healthcare in the country, however, society exemplifies daily the way managed care has gone from patient to profit. The fickle nature of private insurers and the lack of familiarity HMOs may have with disabled patients caused many to be denied health services, and/or insurance.
We have taken a step back in the services our facilities once provided for patients, and now a physician must admit or release a patient in a matter of hours. Time is money, and within the standards of society it is only fair to make the assessment of whether one is ill or not according to the hour, right?
As a result of this, in the last 10 years, the US was ranked lower in quality health care than Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic (two countries which the US is significantly wealthier than).
It is a valid argument to state that this issue on the quality of healthcare and entrance of the federal government into healthcare reform (minimizing use of private insurers) may infringe the rights of the state, or may raise taxes. So, brand me a member of the New World Order, but since when did one’s well being come with a price tag?
Opportunities for debate pertaining to this subject exist, but we need money to function in the world, and having plenty to spare is wonderful. This is not the matter at hand. The concern is at which point can Americans take the emphasis off numbers and figures and place it onto one’s physical well being.
Anyone can share an opinion on what is most valued in society, but what is indisputable is media’s encouragement in choosing which side of the political spectrum one must stand on.
Various news stations are powered by politics, swaying the American citizen in the direction of the Democrats or Republicans. This has only encouraged the world to be a more black and white place, while the colorful minds of youths who do not meet this society standard, (evidently) are left to have socio-political conversations over beer and cigarettes.
The media have also provided a diversion and allowance for ignorance with the introduction of reality TV, and the focus on the lives of the rich and famous. Promoting this decadence is another way of associating money with eternal happiness. Because of this vast hedonism streaming through our cable boxes, young men and women cannot seem to differentiate a celebrity, a politician, a solider, or a civilian.
Because of socially and politically active young people, there is hope to actively unify the nation. Having an educated opinion on current circumstances pertaining to the country has a greater benefit than being uninformed.
The youth of the U.S. have the ability to refuse to be defined by corporations, healthcare, the NRA, and the cast of the Jersey Shore, so please, if you must read a tabloid, compliment it with national and world news, and if you must be hip and apathetic, at least have some insightful global knowledge to throw around at a bar in a foreign land!