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Why My Health Inspires Me to Advocate for State-Based Politics

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It was the first day of an honors seminar in an international relations course that I signed up for. My professor showed us a map without the borders of states on it and asked us what we would consider if the world were to look like this, without traditional states.

Some students said that removing state lines changed the meanings of colonial holdings and a largely “Western” conception of the world, while others considered the impact this would have on the many indigenous groups that populated different states and regions between state lines. Another student considered anarchy (wherein there is a lacking overarching or supervisory figure) and their “game plan” for when the state system completely fell to bits.

I, however, considering the elimination of the traditional state system, realized that I am a product of this state system. I cannot imagine my life without it.

I am a product of big pharmaceutical companies and Canadian-run universal healthcare – or at least, my life is in part, owed to them.

While it was meant as a simple thought exercise on international politics, I faced a terrifying realization on how much I truly rely on my doctors and my medications.

If I don’t take all 10 medications a day, I can barely move from bed, and my hands shake so much that holding a glass is a virtually impossible task.

More concerning, perhaps, is that having a (currently undiagnosed) chronic illness forces me to rely on the medical system even more, in hopes that one of my specialists will pinpoint the problem.

Thus, an identity problem emerged: it was not the collapse of the international and national state system I feared, but I worried about my reliance on “it,” the healthcare system.

Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone delve into the depths of state collapse, but one of my deepest problems began to manifest itself. Will I rely on the medical system for the rest of my life?

Of course I will.

This is not to say that no one doctor will ever be able to identify the health condition I have, but I mean to say that I know I will be on medications for the rest of my life (shout out to my essential tremor).

But is reliance always a negative thing like I perceived in my classroom?


Simply because I have a different perspective on the requirements I expect my state to fulfill, or my views on the necessity of a stable health system, and furthermore on my medication, does not mean that I am any lesser to my peers. Each of us had different concerns about the division of the world map while considering the place of the state, of politics, and of the international system.

Each person has a different outlook on life and the way they live it. So while everyone’s reality is different from another’s, each must live their own life. This question allowed me to explore my fear of dependency on a system that so many of my classmates argued could fail without much issue for them.

So, in the end, I do not need approval on why I advocate for the structure of state-based politics, even if it is a bit of a realist perspective.

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Getty image by Ralwel

Originally published: February 17, 2018
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