Whose Needs

Whenever we hear the case for a government program, we hear sad stories of individuals in distress.  The argument goes that a new government program would be the answer to the person’s problems.  In reality though, there never is a program or a system that fits everyone.  There are always exceptions.  The other reality is that in a country where the government has a program for nearly every problem, the individual hard cases are still hard cases.  They are hard on the program, on the government and on the taxpayers.  Therefore in some European countries, caregivers are being taught they have a responsibility to the society as a whole that is greater than their responsibility to their patient or client.  This really sets professions on their ears when their very reason for existence is healing and helping.  Its creating an identity crisis of mammoth proportions when the healers are told that healing may not be in society’s best interests.  The great irony is that individual hard cases which supposedly justified massive governmental intervention have been the same cases that governments now don’t want to treat, pleading hardship to the society.  There will always be a conflict between individual needs and societal needs.  You can’t balance on the knife edge between them.  It always requires facing up to the society’s ultimate values: the sacred value of each individual life, or the sacred value of the society not to overstretch its economy.

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