Our friend Manuel came for breakfast today. In Spain, breakfast is a break you take about 10 am, to have a sandwich and a cup of coffee. (when you wake up, and before work, you have a coffee and maybe a piece of toast to get you started – food is very important in Spain!)
Manuel has been ill recently. First with the cold that had been running around the village. This developed into a case of bronchitis so severe that he had to be rushed to the nearest emergency clinic, as he was struggling to breathe. He’s much better now – and (of course) insists on coming up to work in his beloved campo as soon as he’s able to walk again!
Manuel is 68. He has seen very hard times in Yunquera – the ‘hungry years’, in which many in the village starved. The Franco years. The post-Franco years. Through it all, his family has farmed – so even when there was no money, at least they had food. So they were lucky. He has told us many times of when men would work in the fields all day just for lunch. And his mother used to hand out food to the poor. You were brought up to share in this village, as you never knew when you might also need a hand. That’s the way it is here, you share.
Anyway, he brought up the American health care vote this morning. He said that the American people would now have health care, and he thought that was good. He went on to say that the capitalists had a lot of money and didn’t want to share it with people who had less. That the poorer people sometimes died because they couldn’t go to the doctor or get medicine. And why? Is it always their fault that they had less money?
He says he thinks it will be better now. America is a rich country, and it doesn’t hurt to share just a bit of the money with those who have less. After all, he says, they send people to the moon – health and life is more important, so isn’t it better to spend some of that money on health?
You may not agree with Manuel’s point of view, but you have to admit, it’s a pretty well thought out argument for a guy who had to leave school when he was nine. Self-educated – and smart. He watches the news, and thinks about what he sees. That’s Manuel.