Monday, July 9, 2007

"Sicko" and the Educated Person

My wife and I just saw Michael Moore’s new film, “Sicko,” about the gross inadequacies of the American healthcare system. While I have always enjoyed his work, I think this is his best. He skillfully juxtaposes very sad tales of people who have lost spouses, children, their economic freedom and peace of mind with countries that provide universal health care, such as Canada, Britain, and France. By the end of the film, one cannot help but feel sorry for a nation as powerful as the United States squandering its resources, allowing so many of its citizens to live and die in healthcare misery.

The film made me think about the crucial role that education has traditionally played in developing critical thinking skills. To be able to think and reflect on issues, to be able to evaluate both sides of a question, as opposed to simply responding viscerally, is to me the mark of the truly educated person. That we have drifted in many ways from that notion to embrace the inculcation of a set of skills in preparation for the job market as the main purpose of education seems dangerous, As Moore’s film indirectly suggests, one of the reasons for the sad state of affairs in the U.S. is the willingness to accept the overblown rhetoric of the vested interests who oppose universal health care. Emotive words such as ‘socialism,’ ‘government intervention’ and ‘restrictions on freedom of choice’ seem to be acceptable substitutes for reasoned debate.

That can’t be good for any society.

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