it’s easy to be against health care reform when you have insurance

kathyescobar incarnational, injustice, rants 95 Comments

its easy to be against health care reform when you have insurancenote: this is part of the august synchroblog focused on christian’s response to health care reform. i haven’t participated in a while, but i thought i’d join in this month.  links to other posts on the same topics are below.

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i usually stay away from political topics here on the carnival.  once in a while i enter the fray, but on the whole it just isn’t something i focus on here.  trust me, though, when i’m across the table from anyone over coffee or food or at some fun party i love to engage in lively dialogue about political b.s.!   also, there are some times when i feel a little bit more compelled than others to put my two cents into a conversation because the topic is near and dear to my heart.  that’s how it is with issues surrounding health care reform.

i am strongly and adamantly in support of universal health care.  i know some of you are cringing right now and that’s fine, we will agree to disagree.  we live in one of the wealthiest, most-educated, most christianized, supposedly most sophisticated nations in the world and 46 million people in this country do not have health insurance and access to proper health care.  i believe that is wrong.

i also believe it’s easy to be against health care reform when you have insurance. just like it’s also easy to be against gay rights when you don’t have any friends who are homosexual.   or rip on illegal immigrants when you’ve never looked one in the eye and seen their fear or heard their story.  yeah,  it’s also easy to talk about “those lazy people who live off the government” when you don’t know anyone who struggles with mental illness, disabilities, or all kinds of other obstacles to self-sufficiency.

i remember shane claiborne saying something at his jesus for president tour in denver last year that “we vote according to what we see out our front window. “ in other words, when you live in a nice house in the ‘burbs and have a good job & a couple of cars & good health insurance and a 401k plan and can pay your bills, you will tend to vote a certain way.  and if you live in a place where there’s reduced rent & not too many running cars, well, you probably see things a little differently.

i live in the ‘burbs.  i live in a nice house, have a good education, we can basically pay our bills, and i have never gone a day in my life without health insurance. even though my mom was a single mom, somehow she always had a job with insurance and so i have always had that luxury in my life.  a chunk of years ago i would say that most of the people i was around—who were out my front window—were in the same boat as us.  i have no idea how they are voting, but my guess it is a little differently than me.  you see, now in the world that i live in most of my friends are part of the 46 million.  they do not have health insurance.  sure, some have medicaid and i can’t tell you how glad i am for that.  but a chunk of others are in the category of the “working poor.”   they make too much to qualify for federal aid but they work their tails off at jobs that no longer provide health insurance.  we all know that the days of great benefits that last forever are over.   profit margins are too tight and the first thing to always go are employee benefits, first and foremost medical coverage because it’s so expensive.   and because people desperately need jobs they have to—to survive—take jobs without health insurance.  then they live hoping & praying they won’t get sick, or that their kid won’t break their arm, or that some how, some way, they might be able to have access to health insurance in their future.

i find it so interesting to hear some of the facebook comments i have seen from conservative christians related to health care reform.  things like “why should i have to use my money to pay for those people who won’t get off their butts and work” and “it won’t be long before the US is socialist” and a host of other things that honestly i don’t take the time to even remember.   the thing that makes me sad is how a reactionary capitalist mentality has flooded christianity.  the mentality of be-prosperous-successful-take-care-of-me-and-my-family-only is more pervasive than we’d like to think.

Jesus calls us to care for the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the rejected, the oppressed, the unprotected. what this means is we are supposed to give some of ours to help.  we are supposed to make sacrifices that we don’t necessarily want to make but are wiling to because Jesus reminds us of that  life-here-on-earth-is-not-about-gathering-wealth-and-taking-care-of-only-our-own-needs.  it’s about sacrificial love.  it’s about taking care of others needs.  it’s about seeing gaps and filling them.  it’s about humbling ourselves for the sake of others.  it’s about offering our coats, our food, our hands and our feet in a tangible way even when it costs us time & money & energy.

i do not want the government to take care of health care for us.  i wish that we, as christians, would.  that we’d take all the money that we waste on church video screens and building mortgages and big ol’ fat salaries and looking good and feeling good and directly invest it in making sure that in the communities we lived in (beyond just faith communities) there was no one who went without.  no one hungry.  no one terrified to get sick because they know it will sink them financially.  no one carrying the burdens of day-to-day life all on their own.  i think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  but that is not the way it is.   christians have not stepped in to make it work through private gift giving, and millions of our neighbors suffer terribly.  and to be honest, the problem feels so big and the options so few that often we don’t even know where to start.  i absolutely hate that we have many friends in the refuge without proper medical insurance.  it feels terrible.  but we don’t remotely have the $500 a month per person to keep them afloat, and it is a travesty that that is how much it costs.

so meanwhile, i see a potential option, a plan that might help do what is right on behalf of those in need, to offer medical care access for all.  as a christ-follower and a good tax-paying citizen with health care insurance, i am willing to give up some of my benefits for my friends.  sure, it might mean longer lines, not as good of care here and there, and some other wacky things that i am sure might end up being annoying.   but who cares?   if it means that my friends can get the treatment they need then bring it on.  we’ll get by no matter what.  but without medical coverage, others won’t.

when it comes to a christians’ response to health care, my take is that we should be leading the charge.  we should share our resources.  we should give a rip about our brothers & sisters who do not have what we have.  Jesus called us to lay down our lives for our friends and i don’t believe he meant “ friends just like us.”  i think he meant friends we might not see  outside our living room window. we have a responsibility as Christ-followers to bring the kingdom of God here on earth—now.  this means we will need to lay down our lives for others –men, women & children across all shapes & sizes & backgrounds—so that they can live.

God, give us  eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to respond.

ps:  i love all of sojourners work in this area.  they rock.

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a few other bloggers writing on this topic today: