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I originally began this diary in a sarcastic and caustic tone, opening with the sentence, "Today I ventured into the belly of the beast, a horrible, nightmarish death tunnel of socialized medicine." The accompanying photo would have confirmed my sense of irony and wit:

belly

But, in truth, I just can't do it. I am too emotional to make jokes as I ponder the inspirational experience I had and lament the fact that if my children are sick, at home, they will encounter just the opposite. Sometimes humor is the best weapon, but it's not in my arsenal right now. Stick with me if you want to learn a bit of what it was like for a foreign national visiting the UK to engage with the National Health Service today.

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What would you do if you found yourself standing face to face with people bearing signs accusing you by name of killing babies and encouraging the shooting of American soldiers?  Might you lose your cool?  Might you get involved in an exchange that would ultimately lead to anger or descend into the shouting matches we've been seeing at so many Town Halls lately?

Not if you're Joan Baez, who, in the 50th year of her career, continues to live according to unshakeable ideals of non-violence and compassion in ways that should inspire us all.

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