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The Year in Opinion Video

Men serving life sentences in American prisons argued why, decades later, they pose no threat to society. Children whose fathers were killed in the war in Ukraine showed us the surprising costs of war. Bank robbers in Beirut flipped our understanding of right and wrong. And a British scholar with a fondness for the rumpled television detective Columbo taught us that “the answer to everything” might be right in front of us.

In 2023, the Times’s Opinion Video team took viewers around the world and into the thick of some of society’s most critical debates. We produced dozens of short films and videos — powerful, emotional works that persuade and capture the human experience in unique ways.

Below are 10 videos that will stick with us far past 2023.

It’s time to completely rethink how we measure our economic success.

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What Is War to a Grieving Child?

Every day, Ukrainian children lose their fathers in Putin’s war. A grief camp is fighting to protect their youth.

Every single one of these kids has lost a father in the war in Ukraine. Ukraine is in a fight for survival. Medicine, infrastructure, weapons — these are the priorities. But not here. This is a grief camp. Its priority is emotional healing. For two weeks, nearly 50 Ukrainian kids gather from across the country. They participate in activities that are designed by therapists to guide the kids through their trauma. We work closely with the therapists, carefully picking who to interview. That’s Liza, a 13-year-old from Kyiv. On the surface, Hanna seems to be a happy teenager. Vlad is full of empathy. This is the first chance many of these kids have had to open up. But not everyone is ready. There’s one kid who’s often withdrawn. His name is Yura. And he’s from Bucha — where Russian atrocities have been well documented. He and his father were riding their bikes when they were both shot, point blank, by Russian soldiers. Yura played dead and survived. The kids have been tasked with building a dream home. How can you create a dream house when all your dreams have been ripped apart? Is it even possible to begin to emotionally rebuild while everything around you is still being destroyed? These kids didn’t just lose their fathers, they lost their homes, friends, schools, pets, books, toys, all of the stuff, small and large, that made up their everyday lives. Remember Liza, who wasn’t ready to visit her father’s grave? She allowed us to record her therapy session. She feels like she’s not getting the support she needs from her mom. Liza is being given something the war has taken from her, the space to grieve. There are 50 kids at this camp trying to hold on to what little is left of their childhoods. But each day, as many as 50 more kids also lose their dads. Tomorrow, another 50 kids, and again the day after. Right now, Ukraine needs help with weapons. It’s also going to need help healing. The end of camp is always difficult. It’s goodbye. It’s back to the real world. And that’s all the more true for these kids. They leave their youth behind and return to the war.

Every day, Ukrainian children lose their fathers in Putin’s war. A grief camp is fighting to protect their youth.

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They Know What They Did. They’d Like You to Know Who They’ve Become.

These men have spent their entire adult lives in prison. How much punishment is enough?

This thing? “Yeah.” It’s just, it’s a camera. It also takes film. “Oh, all right, OK.” It’s a digital camera. “Yeah.” And this is a microphone. “Oh, OK. You know, I’ve been locked up for 40-some years. I didn’t know.” Go back to your time before coming here. “What is this?” That is — “Peach? Sparkling water, they don’t sell stuff like this here, never.” “When I got locked up, my twins were 8 months old. Whew, and that was the last time I saw them. I wrote them letters every week for the first 20 years I was here. And by this time, now they’re all adults. So I figure it’s time for me to stop trying.” “How could you take a 19-year-old person and just take the worst decision he ever made and hold him responsible for it for the rest of his entire life and not even consider that he may have changed?” “He was the thug on the streets 24, 25 years ago, and we’re angry at that person, not realizing that that person no longer exists. He actually hasn’t existed for, like, over 20 years.” These men are serving life sentences at Angola prison in Louisiana. They don’t have the possibility of parole. “I’m serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.” “First-degree murder.” “Second-degree murder and armed robbery.” “I’m serving a life sentence.” “A life sentence without parole.” “I was 18 when this crime happened.” “I was 17 years old.” “I was 18 at the time.” “I come here when I’m 17. I’m 80 years old now.” People who commit crimes should be held responsible. But how much punishment is enough for justice? As you listen to these men, ask yourself: Do they deserve a chance at redemption? “I had time to reflect and what my life would be if I had to stay here. And then I started noticing the need here of the people that was illiterate. So I said, OK, well, I could do some good here. So I started tutoring guys, and I started feeling a self-worth. I said, well, I could give something back like that, all the while still dealing with the fact that I took a life, an innocent life.” “If I happen to die here in prison, that’s not something that I want. But I have to think about and take under consideration I took another human’s life, a young man, Damian. I went to school with him. He still was somebody’s son. If I could go back in time and redo that, that would have never happened. It shouldn’t have happened.” In the U.S., there are more than 50,000 people serving life without parole, 70 percent of whom are Black. “If you come here young, well, prison provides. So you never have to be responsible if you don’t want to. It’s hard to mature in prison because prisons aren’t set up for you to bear the stress of responsibility and to grow from that. So you have to kind of seek it out your own.” With so many long sentences, America’s prison population is aging. Taxpayers spend about $70,000 to keep every elderly prisoner locked up every year. So Angola created a hospice program. Prisoners volunteer to take care of other prisoners, basically people convicted of murder caring for the dying. “It gave me a purpose. It gave me a purpose and showed me a different side, yeah, a compassionate side. And I probably sat with over 50 people to their death.” “Man, you know, I ain’t been to no man. But my first patient was a guy dying of AIDS. When I’m looking at him — a man weighing 60-something pounds, like, man, he can’t do nothing. So I have to pick him out of the bed, put him in the wheelchair. Bring him to the bathroom, help him, bathe him up, tease him, mess with him. But when I first was able to help a person, I just felt different.” “Excuse the expression, but they wash all up the crack of another man’s ass, all up under his nuts and all. It doesn’t care what nationality or race he is. Is that man faking? Hasn’t that man changed? He might have been a character when he got here. But this man has developed character. This man has developed compassion. It comes down to not so much what you have done. But what have you become?” Volunteering, mentoring, education, new experiences gave these men new purpose. “I got a diploma from Culinary Arts School from Baton Rouge Community College and three certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research. In the event that I ever went home, I could be an asset to society and not a liability. I prepare as if I’m going home tomorrow. Even though I have a life without parole, I try to prepare as if I’m going home tomorrow because who knows what might happen. I’d rather go prepared than go unprepared.” Do we really want to be a country where there’s no amount of growth that will ever give someone even a chance to leave prison, a country that’s fine with endless punishment but never with mercy? “That’s the worst part, knowing that I’m a changed man, knowing that I have the skills to go be a better person in society, knowing that I want to do better in society, and knowing that I can do better in society, and not having the opportunity to do that because I have a life sentence without parole. It’s hard. It’s hard.” But we have a solution. Second-look reforms would offer a chance at parole for those who have transformed themselves and who’ve already served a significant portion of their sentence. To be fair, there may be lifers who haven’t grown. But for the many who have, they deserve a second chance. “Ask yourself when you were 16, 17 years old, are you the same person? Do you even think the same way you do now? No, that’s human nature. People change.” “If rehabilitation is a process, there should be an end to it. There’s no, you get to a certain grade level, and there’s not high school, then college, and you can pursue undergraduate and then graduate studies. There’s none of that. It’s just a life sentence.” A few states have implemented changes in the criminal justice system, including second-look reforms. And some of these men have actually gotten out. But they are only a small fraction of those serving life without parole. Now if you’re concerned they might harm someone else, less than 3 percent of lifers who are released are rearrested. And when they are, it’s frequently for a technicality, not a violent crime. In other words, lengthy prison sentences don’t improve public safety. Over time, Americans could save billions of dollars if some of these older reformed men are set free. “I’ve been here longer than I’ve been with my family. So sometimes I question where I’m from. I’d be tempting to write my mama and them and say, if I die, leave me here. Don’t come get me. Don’t leave me with them. I don’t know them no more. Bury me with my friends.” “I know without a doubt I’m going home. If I die here, whether it’s tomorrow or, God forbid, 25 years from now, my body will not stay here. I’m leaving Angola. I’m not going to be buried here. Somebody who says, I want to be buried at Angola, that’s the saddest part of what a life sentence does to you.” “I make sure that my life is very purposeful. Every time I invest myself into someone else, I free a part of myself. A part of me will leave here with you. I’m going to love people so passionately until a part of me will always live outside of the gates of Angola.” “I’ve caught plenty of hell in this penitentiary.” [LAUGHING] “Whether or not, I hope I’ll be lucky enough to get out. I’d go somewhere and make me a living and start all over again. Yeah. They say, the older you get, the more you learn. Well, I’ve learned a lot of things, you understand, so.” [MUSIC PLAYING]

These men have spent their entire adult lives in prison. How much punishment is enough?

They’re among the most effective ways to reduce destructive drinking. What are politicians so afraid of?

For Jerod Draper, horrifying video footage wasn’t enough to force police accountability.

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To Save My Sister, and Myself, I Had to Walk Away

Two siblings learn to balance love and self-preservation.

“Hi, Kaitlin, and this is my sister —” “Hi.” “Natalie.” [MUSIC PLAYING] We’ve always been close. A lot of sisters fight over clothes. We wore matching outfits. We did everything together. I loved Kaitlin so much, but in her darkest hour, when she needed me the most, I abandoned her. What kind of sister does that make me? Kaitlin, my older sister. “Hi.” [SIGHS] She’s a podcast queen, an audio artist. She documents everything. She’s kind of famous. On the outside, she was impressive, charming, fun. But on the inside, she was a wreck, euphoric one moment; sobbing, the next. So loving in one moment; cutting, the next. It was kind of scared of her. Daily life was an assault, just waking up. [WHISPERING] I hate myself. Seeing the wrong name in my inbox could send me into a three-hour spiral. I was at rock bottom. “Here you go, Bean.” I was determined to save Kaitlin. “This one’s for you.” Every morning, I would sit in bed with her for hours, listening to her go on and on. “I can’t be best friends with Sagittariuses.” And on. “You’re doing the best you can, Kaitlin.” “You are my instrument, but no one’s ever looked at me like the mom because — I’m deranged. Look at my eyeballs.” I was losing myself, and I was starting to resent her. And then she said she wanted to end her life. I was numb and cold. I gave her a suicide helpline number. I told her I had to go. “I didn’t go through with it. I didn’t do it, but something did happen after the phone call.” “At its core, folks with B.P.D. tend to have really big, labile emotions. They come on quickly —” I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Having B.P.D. means I will often experience the full spectrum of human emotion in a single day, with each emotion coming in at 100 decibels. Everything feels like an emergency. Because I didn’t know how to put the fires out myself, I expected Natalie to. The diagnosis gave me a map that I could use to navigate my scary inner world on my own. I developed the tools to know when I was in a bad place and take care of myself. Sometimes, that meant that, in the middle of hanging out with Natalie, I had to awkwardly say, I need to leave. I need to ride this out alone. As Kaitlin improved, I realized I wasn’t always fair to her. I blamed Kaitlin for taking over my life, but I’d never taken the time to figure out what my limits even were. And sometimes, that meant interrupting in the middle of a meltdown and saying, Kaitlin, I don’t have the capacity for this right now. [MUSIC PLAYING] Sure, it was really scary, wondering would Kaitlin be O.K.? And having to live with the answer “I don’t know.” Taking on someone’s pain isn’t always the best way to love them. Being close doesn’t have to mean sharing everything. Now, we make plans to be apart just as often as we make plans to be together. Together, we discovered that distance can be a good thing, and that brought us even closer.

Two siblings learn to balance love and self-preservation.

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Your Rewards Card Is Actually Bad for You, and for Everyone Else

Chasing credit card points is a game in which everyone loses.

This is a story about you and your favorite credit card, the one that earns you points. You use your card for everything. You pay off your balance every month. And you watch with glee as your rewards grow and grow and grow. And when it’s time to cash in, you announce that you’re going to get a family gift. And each member will get one vote. And then your daughter argues that the family needs another iPad. And your son has fallen in love with the ugliest garden gnome that you’ve ever seen. And so to break up the skirmish, you decide that you’ll be getting the frying pan. Because what brings the family together more than food? Marty is the answer. But let’s keep him out of this. And when they complain and say, “But that’s not what I wanted,” you look them in the eye and say, “This was never about you.” “It’s about us, all of us.” And then two weeks later your frying pan arrives. And you can’t help but smile because you kind of did get this for yourself, though you’ll never admit it. And you’re looking at the frying pan. And it’s staring at you and you at it and it at you and you at it. And you just have this split second where you think to yourself: Who actually paid for this? Who pays for all of this? Well, if you love your rewards card, then you’re probably not going to like the answer. Because you try to be a good person, you shop locally. And each week you buy, let’s say, $100 in groceries from MJ. When you swipe your card, that $100 doesn’t go straight to MJ. Instead, store owners are charged a series of fees, the largest of which is called the swipe fee. It’s set by the card network, usually Visa or Mastercard. And your bank uses it to pay for your rewards. The swipe fee is usually between 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent of your total. The more premium your credit card, the more that MJ is charged. Now, that might not sound like much. But it can add up. For small businesses like MJ’s, swipe fees can be one of their biggest expenses. And small stores like hers get charged higher rates than big-box competitors. In order to cope, store owners like MJ raised their prices. That means that all of us are paying more. But only those who have special cards are getting rewards. And here’s the catch: The wealthiest Americans tend to have the best cards that give them the most rewards, while poorer Americans are more likely to pay in cash or debit with no rewards or benefits. So what we really have is a system that forces everyone to pay higher prices in order to subsidize rewards that primarily go to the wealthy. So this rewards card, it’s really a screw-over-poor- people card. Every time you use it, you’re contributing to inequality, helping to drive up prices and further squeeze the most cash-strapped Americans, all so that you can get that free frying pan. You’re probably not benefiting from rewards as much as you thought. In 2020, the Federal Reserve found that the average American at every income level loses more to swipe fee price hikes than they earn in rewards. And of course, the poorest Americans are still getting handed the worst deal. On average, they pay five times more in price mark-ups than they’ll ever receive in rewards. Why are we stuck in this system? Why are swipe fees in the U.S. nine times higher than they are in Europe? Why do we have to pay so much just to pay? Well, it’s largely thanks to two companies, Visa and Mastercard. This system is their core business. It’s what they do for a living. And, sure, they’re providing a service and deserve to earn a profit. But these two companies control over 80 percent of the credit card market. With scant competition, Visa and Mastercard have faced little pressure to rein in swipe fees. The truth is for the vast majority of Americans, the best deal might not come in the form of a new piece of plastic but instead a new piece of legislation. That’s because Congress has the power to regulate swipe fees. In fact, in 2010, they did just that for debit cards. Remember the swipe fee on that $100 grocery purchase? If you paid with a debit card, it would have only cost MJ 26 cents. Dick Durbin, the senator who helped crack down on swipe fees for debit cards, has authored a bipartisan bill that would use competition to drive down credit card swipe fees. But the banks and credit card companies are, of course, pushing back. Right now, there are two things that you can do. First, call your senator and encourage them to support this bill. You can go to this website to find their number. Second, if you’re shopping at a small business that you want to support, remember that how you pay can make a difference. Using your debit card can save small businesses a lot in swipe fees. But the best solution might be elsewhere in your wallet. Increasingly, small businesses are offering discounts for cash payers. Avoiding this predatory system can be a win for both of you. And if those rewards are just too good to say goodbye to, well, then at least don’t go around telling people that you’ve never taken a handout, because you have. And the working class is paying for it. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Chasing credit card points is a game in which everyone loses.

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Pick a Side. Pick a Side. Pick a Side. Now.

Social media demands that you’re with us or against us.

“If you’re a human being and you’re not outraged by this, that is a serious problem.” “Where is your humanity?” “You gonna have to pick a side.” “There is no equivocating this.” “And your silence is deafening.” “You’ve got to pick a side. You better pick a side.” “I don’t know how you can sit there and say, ‘I don’t support either side.’” What’s your opinion on the war in the Middle East? [MUSIC PLAYING] I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist on an answer. Today there are wars raging all across our small planet, but today you’re only required to take a stance on one. “I stand with, and I am praying for, Israel.” “I have and always will fully support Palestine.” Your silence isn’t just suspicious. “Hmm. What should I do with my silent, fake, woke, liberal, non-Jewish friends?” It aids the enemy. “Your silence has been very clear about where you stand.” The kid from “Stranger Things” says, “Stand with Israel or you stand with terrorism.” Don’t know your way around the nuance of this conflict? You can take your cues from noted Middle East experts — Kim Kardashian, LeBron James, the Rock, Justin Bieber, Amar’e Stoudemire. “For all y’all Black Lives Matter who ain’t saying nothing: [EXPLETIVE] you.” Don’t take your marching orders from celebrities? How about corporations? [MUSIC PLAYING] American Eagle changed their Times Square billboard to the Israeli flag. The N.F.L., AccuWeather, Volkswagen, Barry’s Bootcamp — the Mets stand with Israel. “Go to their Instagram page. Go to any public statement, if they have social media. See what they did for the Black community. See what they did for the Asian community. Show them proof of what they did for other communities and demand they do this for Jews.” Compassion for humanity is a good thing. So what about the more than 300,000 people who’ve died in Nigeria and the roughly 60,000 who’ve disappeared in Mexico? What does the Rock think about the Rohingya? What is Justin Bieber doing to solve the crisis in Yemen? Where do the Mets stand on the war in Congo? [CRICKETS CHIRPING] [MUSIC PLAYING] And when you do pick a side, be sure to use the right words. Blame Israelis, but don’t be antisemitic. “You’re perpetuating antisemitism in this country.” Blame Palestinians, but don’t be Islamophobic. “I’m just going to assume that you’re Islamophobic.” Join the right side of history. “Correct side of history.” Change your avatar. It’s easy. “Easy thing.” And harmless. [SINGING] “There once was a —” It is just so simple. “Make it simple.” Infographics, memes, explainers. “Educate you —” “— three-minute version —” Girlsplainers. “Buckle up, girlypops. We’re talking about Israel and Palestine.” And picking a side is also a great time to promote yourself. “This is a day in my life — we’re at war edition.” Well, most of the time. “I realized that my usual formula of bimbo comedy was probably not the most appropriate for this time.” [MUSIC PLAYING] This is a war with enormous suffering. “Stop trying to play the victim.” “Anybody who is supporting Israel is not somebody that I want to be around.” The conflict is confusing and unutterably sad. Bullying by the thought police only makes things worse. “Law firms have already pulled job offers from students who criticized Israel.” “Reports of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. have spiked.” “A Palestinian American boy stabbed along with his mother in their home.” “You should be raped and dragged through the streets in front of your kids.” “You [EXPLETIVE] Jew haters, you.” Social media is where nuance goes to die. “Israel’s mother —” “Stay out of it!” [SCREAMING] [MUSIC PLAYING] And when it dies, we all risk losing sight of what really matters. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Social media demands that you’re with us or against us.

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How Britain Put One of the World’s Best Health Care Systems on Life Support

The N.H.S. is one of Britain’s proudest achievements, and it’s unraveling.

Decades ago, the leaders of Britain launched a, frankly, incredible plan, to provide every kind of medical treatment to everyone free of charge. It had never been done on this scale under capitalism before, and Britain was broke. But with courage and vision, these politicians pulled it off. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING] The National Health Service was born, and overnight, every medical treatment, from blood tests to brain surgery, became available to millions who could previously never afford it — no deductibles, no co-pays. Here in Britain, we are fiercely proud of the N.H.S. It’s this towering monument to social generosity, rooted in the belief that health care is a human right, not a luxury. We love it more than the royal family and football. I mean, even ISIS thought it was worth copying. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING] We Brits haven’t had much to brag about of late, but the N.H.S. was one of them. Not anymore. “The worst crisis ever to face the NHS —” “— departments are described as war zones.” “N.H.S. trusts have canceled half of their elective surgeries.” “We don’t have enough beds.” “Staff are striking.” “Up to 500 people are dying each week because of delays.” It’s an absolute mess. Millions are waiting months to get treatment. People are pulling out their own teeth — all of it compounded by wave after wave of strikes. It all feels like we’re at the end of a badly played game of Jenga, and we’re all anxiously wondering: Is the best thing we’ve ever created about to collapse? [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING] I was brought into the world by N.H.S. doctors, in this hospital right here, and I’ve grown up, like many Brits, kind of taking the service for granted, so this whole situation is really confusing. How has such an incredible institution been brought so close to the edge of ruin? Now, talk to some politicians and pundits around here, and they’ll give you two explanations, firstly, that universal health care just no longer works and, secondly, that it’s too expensive. After all, the N.H.S. was built for a 1950s world, and a lot’s changed since then. Britain’s population has ballooned. We all live a lot longer. But this doesn’t really hold water. Throughout most of its history, the N.H.S. has largely grown to meet the nation’s needs. Until recently, it frequently ranked as one of the best health care systems in the developed world. And as for the cost, well, Britain spends just one, two, three, four, five and a half thousand dollars a year per person on health care. That’s less than almost all other European countries and way less than the U.S. Its efficiency makes it one of the best-value health care systems in the developed world. It’s not perfect, but universal health care works just fine, thank you very much. So what’s really going on? There’s clearly more to this. So my colleagues and I spoke with doctors and health experts around the U.K., and they told us a different story, one that should worry all of us, really, of a long, slow undermining of a public institution by the governments who are supposed to be protecting it. All right, let’s start with something really basic. If you want to run a health service, you need doctors, nurses, paramedics — Well, not only that. You need enough of the right kinds of doctors and nurses, right? You need to plan ahead, forecast your medical needs and replenish the pipeline accordingly. Well, for decades, the U.K. government’s failed to do any of that. And so holes appeared in our work force. We used to fill them by hiring medics from other countries, but Brexit put a squeeze on all that. The N.H.S. is now short of more than 150,000 staff. The British government finally put together a long-term plan to train new staff, but it takes 15 years to train a doctor, by which point our needs will have changed again. This kind of short-term thinking and incompetence, frankly, isn’t isolated. It’s part of a pattern that’s done a lot of damage to the N.H.S. To show you what I mean, I need to tell you a different story, one that begins more than 30 years ago. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING] 1990: Margaret Thatcher passes legislation requiring hospitals to compete against each other for patients. 1997: Tony Blair forces the N.H.S. to take expensive loans to build new hospitals. 2012: David Cameron gives private contractors access to even more of the N.H.S. And then 2022: Yet another bill gives corporations more control of N.H.S. spending. Brick by brick, parts of this public institution are being handed over to the private sector. And look, privatization isn’t necessarily bad. It encourages innovation and efficiency, perhaps. But here, it’s had a destabilizing effect, draining the N.H.S. of its own doctors and nurses and burdening it with debt, all the while skimming what should be public money into the pockets of American health care corporations. Now, we’re not anywhere near the two-tier U.S. health system yet. But today, some N.H.S. hospitals, including this one right here, have whole floors reserved for private patients. Those GoFundMe campaigns for medical costs you see all over the U.S., well, they happen here, too, now as well. How rich we are is beginning to determine how quickly and how well we get treated, and that’s a violation of those core ideals at the foundation of the N.H.S. Now, there are a whole bunch of other things I could tell you about, from the, frankly, embarrassing failure to digitize patient records to the woeful underfunding of home health care. But I really want to tell you about this last one, because it’s a doozy. It’s the thing few in government will mention, but it’s critical in explaining this whole mess. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING] Britain’s leaders always understood that the N.H.S. budget had to grow a little each year if it’s to work. And for its whole history, even the most conservative governments obliged. That is, until this guy. After the 2008 financial crisis, David Cameron effectively froze the N.H.S. budget. The systems lost $50 billion of investments each year for most of the last 13 years. It’s one of the main reasons these doctors keep striking. Their salaries have effectively fallen more than 10 percent in that time. And don’t forget, this is in one of the most cost-effective health systems in the world. Weakened by privatization, gutted of staff and money, the N.H.S. was in a bad way in 2019. And then, right on cue, Covid. “I don’t think the model of the N.H.S., as it was set up some 70 years ago, is sustainable for the future.” “And I think we should privatize the N.H.S. I don’t think it’s fit for purpose as it stands.” “The N.H.S. should be stripped down to providing emergency care, and all the hospitals should be privatized.” We don’t need a different health care service. We need to rebuild the one we already have, brick by brick, from the foundation up. But the political will, the courage and the vision required to do that, is evaporating. We’re at risk of abandoning the idea of universal health care itself, and if we do, we’ll all lose the world’s most famous example of an ideal: that health care is a human right and a public responsibility. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING]

The N.H.S. is one of Britain’s proudest achievements, and it’s unraveling.

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The Life Span of Loneliness

Times readers, ages 16 to 93, open up about loneliness.

“I feel loneliness in my chest.” “Just a heavy weight on your back.” “My career has isolated me.” “I don’t have a partner. I don’t have kids.” “Right after I got married, people just fell away.” “As a single parent, there are these —” “Then I retired.” “My greatest fear is dying alone.” “It’s a doozy, loneliness. It’s a bad one.” [MUSIC PLAYING] “The feelings of loneliness and isolation that I feel stem from losing my dad to suicide at 12 years old.” “I feel like I’ve always felt lonely. What did I do to run everybody else away? I feel like I — just something that makes people scatter.” “I feel like if I don’t try to be successful, I’ll always regret not having tried. My loneliness ends up kind of being my punishment.” “Does everybody feel like this? There must be something wrong with me.” “Surrounded by people but yet you’re still feeling like you’re not even around anybody.” “I’m at this wedding, and kind of like on reflex, I open up my phone. I pull up a dating app, and I start swiping. And then I look around, and there’s just so many people around me laughing and having a good time, just being loving with each other. Yeah, that was a moment of feeling deep loneliness.” “You might try to do everything possible to find a life partner, but you might be single forever.” “People cannot imagine that you’d be so lonely that you would dread Thanksgiving and thinking like, ‘Gosh, I hope somebody invites me.’” “As a single parent, I feel like it’s the most important and biggest thing I will ever do in life. And I just keep it to myself because there’s no one to share it with.” “I decided deliberately not to have children, while all my close friends decided the opposite. And as they were focusing more and more of their time on family life, I became deprioritized.” “I would have never told you that I would work this many hours as I do and I wouldn’t have a group of friends surrounding me.” “When my spouse comes home” “and she just kind of goes off into her corner. And she’s the first person I want to talk to, and I’m the last person she wants to talk to.” “I’ve been a single mom for almost 14 years. And I just sometimes feel like I want someone to reach out to me and take care of me.” “Friends don’t want to hear about how lonely I am.” “It’s just too much burden to put on.” “You don’t want to add to their burden.” “— on other people.” “I’ve been trying to go to lunch with a colleague of mine on my campus for eight years, and it still hasn’t happened.” “I thought I was building a family that was going to be close and connected and doing things together, and that hasn’t happened.” “I was important, right? I mattered to people. I thought I did. And then I retired. And the isolation was deafening.” “I was diagnosed with a very rare bone marrow cancer. I have had certain friends and family disappear from my life. Such a deep disappointment over those who abandon you.” “The experience of cross-dressing and keeping it secret marked me with loneliness during my entire life.” “You look at the time, and you go, “It’s 3:00,’ and you have so much of your day, and the phone doesn’t ring. No one’s connecting with you, and you wonder how you can make the day go by. For retirement, they used to tell you it’s the golden years. Well, how can it be golden if there’s no one in it?” “I start to feel as if this is my punishment for not having children. And I think when you see Ellen — in a sense, I find myself saying, ‘You asked for it.’” “And she said, ‘Bob, we’ve been married for 66 years, and we have so much to say to each other. Do you suppose other people married this long have so much to talk about?’ And the next night, she was gone.” [MUSIC PLAYING] “Try to remember to pick up the phone. You have no idea how that unexpected phone call can change their day.” “It’s the children saying, ‘Dad, I love you’ and ‘How are you?’ And it’s also a good friend saying, ‘Bob, I don’t like the sound of your voice. I’m coming over. We’re going to talk.’” “If I can get myself to pick up the phone and call somebody, somebody else will say, ‘I’m feeling exactly the same way.’ And then — poof! — you’re part of the human race again.” [MUSIC PLAYING]

Times readers, ages 16 to 93, open up about loneliness.

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