The “Right” to “Free” Health Care and Education: A Brief History

Citizens have “the right to education. This right is ensured by universal, compulsory elementary education; by education, including higher education, being free of charge; by the system of state stipends for the overwhelming majority of students in the universities and colleges.” Citizens also have the right to “free medical service,” and the provision of a “wide network of health resorts.”

These “rights” to “free” education and medical service come from the 1936 Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the Stalin Constitution after the former Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, the vaunted “Man of Steel” and “Great Leader.” In his speech on the Constitution, Stalin said, “we have already achieved the first phase of Communism, Socialism.” The 1936 Constitution preserves “the regime of the dictatorship of the working class, just as it also preserves unchanged the present leading position of the Communist Party of the USSR.” Those “bourgeois” constitutions, on the other hand, “confine themselves to stating the formal rights of citizens,” and “the Constitution of the USSR is the only thoroughly democratic Constitution in the world.”

For Stalin’s pal Vyacheslav Molotov, “the new Constitution will consolidate our profoundly democratic system more than ever.” With all those rights to free education, medical care, and such, “we loudly proclaim how socialist democracy should be interpreted.”

As the Stalin Constitution proclaims, “the economic life of the USSR is determined and directed by the state national economic plan to increase the public wealth, of steadily improving the material conditions of the working people.” It didn’t exactly work out that way, even with all those rights to free education, medical care, and such. Some journalists might bring that up at the next debate of the 2020 presidential candidates.

Emotions

You may have heard about the benefits of diet and exercise ad nauseam but may be unaware of the effect that your emotions can have on your physical well-being and, indeed, your longevity. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life. Mental health is how we think, feel, and act to face life’s situations. Prolonged psychological stress may harm health, such as weakening the immune system.

Children are particularly vulnerable. Caring for and protecting a child’s mental health is a major part of helping that child to grow into a normal adult, accepted into society. Mental health problems are not just a passing phase. Children are at greater risk for developing mental health problems when certain factors occur in their lives or environments. Mental health problems include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and conduct disorder. Do your best to provide a safe and loving home and community for your child, as well as nutritious meals, regular health check-ups, immunizations, and exercise. Many children experience mental health problems that are real and painful, and they can be severe. Mental health problems affect at least one in every five young people at any given time.

Tragically, an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need. Mental health problems can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug abuse, family discord, violence, or even suicide. A variety of signs may point to a possible mental health problem in a child or teenager. Talk to your doctor, a school counselor, or other mental health professionals who are trained to assess whether your child has a mental health problem.

Control your emotions. If a driver overtakes you on the wrong side or pulls out of a side road in front of you, don’t seethe with rage and honk your horn; You’re hurting no one but yourself by raising your blood pressure. Anger has been linked to heart disease, and research has suggested that hardening of the arteries occurs faster in people who score highly in hostility and anger tests. Stay calm in such situations, and feel proud of yourself for doing so. Please take comfort in the knowledge that such aggressive drivers only increase their own blood pressure. Your passengers will be more impressed with your “cool” than with your irascibility.

If you are in a constant rush, feeling that every second of your life counts, slow down a little. Yes, every second does count but consider the concept of quality of life. Compare how you feel when you’re in a hurry with how you feel when you’re not. Which feels better? Rushing everywhere increases your stress level. The body tries to overcome stress by making certain physiological adjustments. Sometimes after you slow down, the physiological adjustments and the stress symptoms revert to normal. If you don’t ever slow down, the physiological adjustments and the stress symptoms persist. It is this persistence of the body’s response that matters. You may develop physical, physiological, or psychological problems and may not lead a normal life. Many cases of stress are somehow connected with money, or rather the lack of it. Such people struggle to make ends meet or to acquire more material possessions. This brings us to our final discussion: attitude.

Attitude

It is always pleasant to enjoy the fruits of our labors, of course. Sometimes, however, it seems that whatever we do, it’s just not enough to be able to afford that new car or that foreign holiday. So, what do we usually do then? We work harder, longer; we increase our minds and bodies; we spend less time with our families and friends; we become more irascible and less likable people. If you find yourself in this situation, stop for a moment, and consider: Is it all worth it? What is the purpose of life? Surely it is to be happy. You’ll probably be happier if you adopt the philosophy that true quality of life is not found in material things.

If you convince yourself that you want less, you’ll need less. If you need less, you’ll cope with life more easily, and the happier, and therefore healthier you’ll be. Buddha called this “enlightenment.” Enjoy a “good-health attitude.” Focus on your abilities instead of disabilities. Be satisfied with what you have, rather than be dissatisfied about what you don’t have and probably never will have.

If you cannot cope with a healthy diet, exercise, and emotional control, but genuinely prefer to eat junk food, be permanently drunk, be under constant stress, and be disliked by others, then enjoy your life. At the same time, it lasts, but understand that the trade-off is that it will probably not last long. If you accept this willingly, you’ll be happy. There is some merit in the philosophy that it is better to live a short, happy life than a long, miserable one.

Conclusion

Personal or individual health is largely subjective. However, for most individuals and many cultures, health is a philosophical and subjective concept, associated with contentment and often taken for granted when all is going well. The evidence that behavioral factors such as diet, physical activity, smoking, and stress influence health is overwhelming. Thus, health is maintained and improved not only through the advancement and application of health science but also through the individual and society’s efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices. Perhaps the best thing you can do for your health is to keep a positive attitude. Optimal health can be defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Maintain a positive attitude!

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