The death of Chalie Gard at the hands of the english socialized medicine and legal system, is a tragedy not to him alone, as an individual who has rights, nor to his parents, who were barred from providing alternative medical care to preserve his life and, maybe, potentially cure him. His death, which is set to take place sometime during this week, is also a tragedy for science. If it weren’t for brave individuals who challenge death itself by devising new medical treatments and medicine, we would be stuck in the middle ages, dying from diseases that were able to ravage half the world’s population back then, but which are now easily treatable. By allowing Charlie Gard to die a “dignified death” instead of allowing his parents to fight for him, it is entirely possible that a new treatment for mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome has been stalled for who knows how many more years — because the point is not that this experimental treatment his parents were offered should be successful at the first try to prove its worth. The point is that by fighting diseases we are able to find cures. Conversely, by sanctioning the culture of death of socialized medicine and big states that take decisions for individuals we simply remain in the dark, without being able to defend ourselves.
Think, for example, about the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s. Back then, developing AIDS after contracting HIV was akin to receiving a death sentence. Thousands of people died during those years, with very little that could be done for them. And yet that didn’t mean that we gave up on them. Roy Cohn, the Angels in America character based on real life lawyer of the same name comes to mind when I say this, because just like the character, many people were willing to do whatever it took in order to save their lives. The fictional Roy Cohn punched all the buttons of power he could in order to get his hand on experimental treatment that in the end didn’t manage to save his life — but he tried and he was not barred by a board of “wise men” who had come to the conclusion that his life was not worth preserving. And even though he did not make it, today we have news coming from different places around the world where aggressive treatments have been able to reduce the presence of the virus in the bloodstream. What is more, in some cases individuals have been completely cured. We also have experimental vaccines for far more deathly diseases like Ebola and Chikungunya, and many treatments for another huge man’s killer: Cancer.
As I say this, another far darker thought comes to mind. Perhaps the english court had come to the decision that Charlie’s life was not worth preserving not because of the cruel nature of his disease. After all, as I have pointed out before, there are other human diseases that are just as cruel as what Charlie was born with. Maybe the real reason why alternative, innovative treatment was prohibited to him is because he was just an individual. One little person in a galaxy of billions “who needed the money more” like him. Maybe that is also why there are so many comments on CNN and BBC pages on Facebook pointing out that he needs to die so that others can make use of the medical staff and facilities that he is now using.
There are millions of sufferers of AIDS and Cancer, as well as thousands of sufferers of Ebola each year — a disease that has the potential of mutating and becoming a real world destroyer if we are not able to stop it now on its tracks. But this new thought is far more darker than just thinking about the irrational cruelty of doctors who wanted their opinion to prevail because it gives strength to my first assertion: that indeed, england’s socialized medicine and legal system is based on an increasingly authoritarian culture where the individual (the smallest minority, as Ayn Rand was correct to point out) does not matter in the slightest — where only that which affects the masses can potentially be of any significance.
This message may never reach little Charlie’s parents, but as they look onto the world with anguished eyes they are not alone. I, another individual who goes by the pronouns I and mine and by my given name, Xondra, for I am indeed an individual and not just a shapeless nothing of meat and blood that breathes— I am with them, for we cannot allow our societies to become collectivized. We individuals cannot allow our societies to think of the abstract masses of They and Theirs, nameless, shapeless, without identities and without rights or powers. We individuals cannot allow our societies to castrate what makes us human: the power of observation and innovation at the hands of critically thinking minds that look for solutions, not for “dignified” deaths forced upon others for commodity, greed or fear. I am with individuals like them, like you, like I, who fight for your rights and your freedom and who make humanity what it should be. I am not with the cave dwellers who are too afraid of the light that they much rather inflict darkness upon others by brute force.
I am with you.