Although all people need money to live, incl. to enjoy living, the opportunities for private gains are always limited and sometimes the effort required is too much for us. We are harassed the most by the state, i.e. the politically solidary demands of the society, which may or may not coincide with ours.

Every day, we have to think of ways to take someone’s money away so we could give it so someone else who does or offers what we want. Taking money does not mean going against someone’s will, as we give them goods, services or work in return.

Political governance cannot cope with the finer nuances of solidarity. Roads are built, so are schools and kindergartens, but when saving a citizen’s life requires a medicine costing 172,000 euros (our Annabel), the national solidarity system declares that we have to choose whose treatment is cost-effective and whose is not. Unfortunately, this is a primitive, even disturbing example. Moreover – this claim is thoroughly untrue.

We don’t have to choose who doesn’t have the right to live – even if it is for just one more day – and who does. We must do everything possible and reasonable (these two tend to coincide) to ensure that every citizen and the society as a whole could live life to the full. Helping a citizen facing the biggest hardships is a test for the government.

Donors give when something matters to them

Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs Maris Jesse recently spoke about the difficult choices the state has to make: to buy extra days for a cancer-stricken grandfather or dental treatment for the grandchild? You cannot buy life. This is not an option. Having to choose between a grandfather and grandchild is hard for the soul. The grandfather’s premature death is unavoidable? There simply is no money and that’s that? Dear state, I beg to differ.

Although the state can accomplish quite a lot with the money it forces people to give up, the donations made by volunteers can be used for doing the things the state doesn’t want to do. It’s not about being able to, but wanting to do certain things. The opportunities of private initiatives are tiny compared to the state’s. But private initiatives can move more mountains. They can do incredible and extraordinary things. With passion.

For almost four years, many volunteers have been raising funds in the cancer treatment foundation The Gift of Life. We have bought medicines that the national solidarity system cannot manage to do, because the state thinks it knows better than doctors.

We have gifted extra days of life to hundreds of people. This year, the amount of donations exceeded the magical line of one million euros. I am very grateful to everyone who has donated at least a cent. Good will shows you care more than the declaration: I’ve done my duty to society, I pay taxes.

When I say ‘we’, I speak about the thousands of donors who have come to the conclusion that we don’t have to make the establishment’s life interesting, but we have to make each other’s lives happier. Citizens can communicate with each other to share their joys and concerns. This is the main idea of charity. We have to love the others more than we love ourselves. It makes the society nobler.

Keep your mouth shut if you don’t want to contribute

The society has managed to pay taxes well – all these social, income and value added taxes, which in my opinion are way too big compared to what we get in return – the establishment in Estonia has certainly been expensive rather than cheap after we regained out independence. We could certainly have a lot less waste and stop chasing the wind.

The society is very good at donating – when we see a problem that we want to solve, we solve it. In cases like these, politicians and officials have no right to say anything. They should just keep their mouths shut.

When people want to support someone, the choice they make may be emotional as well as rational. I have observed how the members of the doctors council of The Gift of Life analyses various cases and understood that they don’t always agree about cost-effectiveness either. There are five top cancer specialists on the foundation’s council. How can someone who is not a top specialist in medicine assess cost-effectiveness? Doesn’t matter if they’re a politician of even an official with a medical background. They can’t.

Society is the most important patient

Tallinn Children’s Hospital Foundation, which will turn 25 on 18 January 2018, was the model fund for The Gift of Life four years ago. We borrowed all of the most important principles from them. One of the is that we treat the society first of all. And then come those who are ill.

In addition to helping specific people, we want to improve and develop the options of the solidarity system. If a neonatal ward can be renovated and a new ambulance can be bought before the state gets around to it, then it’s wonderful.

We don’t just postpone death, but help many people get their lives back. All children are sad when they come to the hospital, but most of them are in a better mood when they leave. Some have been cured, others have had their pain relieved.

Coming back to the start: the grandchild must get dental treatment and the grandfather must be able to live for as long as he can. You cannot buy life, you must love life. You only life once. The state may be good in performing the functions commissioned by the people, but it must not get in the way of the people who want to do something good for the society. The latter is not the government’s exclusive right.