Arguing with the “good”

Someone please explain to me the mindset of a mature woman who calls herself a Christian yet casually opines that she really, really hopes that health insurance reform dies on the vine.

She can’t imagine why regular insurance isn’t good enough for people. The ones who want a public option, she says, are those “Medicaid types.” They don’t work. They’re lazy. They want something for nothing.

She was exercising next to me at our local Curves gym. She’s a friendly woman, talks a mile a minute, is clearly opinionated about everything and, except for her stunning disregard for people who are less fortunate than she is, a kind person. She told another woman there, who’d recently survived breast cancer, that she was looking wonderful and that she and her group had prayed for her.

“Thank you,” the woman said.

Somehow the conversation turned again to health reform. “That Obama,” my Christian co-exerciser said, “he’s all for abortion. Now that’s not something that someone who’s for life can support. And old people! He said he wants to kill old people!”

I’d been quiet up to this point, but I couldn’t let that go.

“President Obama has never said that,” I snapped.

“But he wants death panels …”

“That was a bald-faced lie. All that part of the health care insurance reform bill would have done was to pay doctors for counseling people about end-of-life care and to make them aware that they can decide for themselves now what they want doctors to do should they be unable to speak for themselves.”

“Well, I know he wants abortion.”

“Yes, he supports a woman’s right to an abortion. But he doesn’t encourage it. Why would anyone encourage it? Obama supports abortion but encourages people to act responsibly and use birth control. He wants people to be educated about these things so that abortions aren’t necessary. But they’ll be available as a last resort.”

“Abortion is evil. It’s taking a human life.”

“You have a right to believe what you want. But you have no right to tell me what to believe or to make decisions, based on your beliefs, which affect my life.”

“Well, I don’t think we need health care reform. There’s nothing wrong with our health care system. People from countries with socialized medicine come here for medical care all the time because they can’t get it at home! So what’s so wrong with just having insurance?”

“Nothing, if you can have it and can afford it. But what if you can’t? What then?”

She just gazed at me.

“Look. I was laid off from my job. I lost my health insurance. Not long after that, my rheumatoid arthritis, which had been in remission, became active again. I had to wait quite a while, but I was finally able to get medical care through the Veterans’ Administration, since I’m a vet with a service-related disability. So today my RA is being treated by a VA rheumatologist. I take meds that help, with luck, to keep the RA under control. But if I didn’t have the VA, I’d be up a creek.”

“But— ”

 “And not only that. I have VA health care right now, but when I find work again, I’ll no longer be eligible for it. I’ll make too much money. So it’s imperative that I find a job that offers health care as a benefit. And then I have to hope to hell that the insurance company they use will accept me. Rheumatoid arthritis is a “pre-existing condition.” Some of the medications used to treat it are outrageously expensive. The disease is incurable. I might need surgeries in the future. Joint replacements. An insurance provider could deny me right off, or at any time thereafter. And then what do I do? I’m up a creek again.

“When health care insurance reform passes, even if it doesn’t have a public option, insurance providers won’t be able to deny me insurance or drop me because I have rheumatoid arthritis. And if I lose my job again, I’ll still be able to get good, quality medical care.”

“OK,” she conceded. “But the public option is just socialized medicine. It’ll be like Medicare, and everyone knows that’s a joke!”

The other woman, the breast-cancer survivor, spoke up. “I take medications right now that cost $2500 a month. I have Medicare. It covers most of the cost. Medicare covered my mastectomy and chemotherapy. It covered my hospital bills. There’s no way I could have paid for all that. I’d have gone bankrupt. Medicare saved my life.”

The good Christian went silent. So did I. We finished our workouts and, a while later, left at the same time. As we went to our cars I grinned and said, “have a really great day.” She smiled back, told me to do the same, and that was it. Off we went in our own directions.

I’m glad we were able to be civil in spite of disagreeing with one another, in spite of having political views that are, obviously, on opposite ends of the spectrum. I see this woman three times a week at the gym, and I’d rather not have to try to avoid her. I’m sure she’d rather not have to deal with that discomfort, either. Still, as I drove home the whole conversation bothered me more and more.

Because, to my understanding, being a “Christian” means caring about others. It means helping others in need. It means compassion, charity, love. It means doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Jesus Christ was full of kindness. He had a special eye for “the least of us.”

I wish I’d asked that woman “what would Jesus do” in regards to health care insurance reform. I’d like to see her try to explain how Jesus would say, “Tough shit. I’ve got mine. Why should I pay for you? You’re on your own, sucker.”

I wish I’d told her that people like her are the reason I have no respect for religion, particularly Christianity – or at least, her version of it. But I didn’t. And maybe, because I went back to being friendly and neutral again at the end of our short time together, she’ll think about the whole conversation today, just like I have. Maybe she’ll even change how she feels about health insurance care reform. Maybe she’ll see, suddenly, how she’s been lied to about everything from President Obama’s birth certificate to the horrors of “socialized medicine.”

I can hope, can’t I? Heh. Jesus would.

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6 Responses to “Arguing with the “good””

  1. I think what lady lacked was imagination, the ability to ‘be in the room ‘ with people who are desperate and ill to think feel and smell what that might be like . Our National Health Service is not perfect; but I never have to worry, not for a moment, whether or not I can afford medicine or medical treatment for my family. Just imagine that.
    Maybe if she spent some time volunteering in the community, she might see a different world and think, there but for the grace of ‘my god’ go I.
    But maybe she is more interested in her own reflection?

  2. Ignorance is all snarl and misdirection. The soul of kindness, of understanding is not something we’ve greatly fostered, except in generalities. A few percent of the population understand the connectivity of Life … still, it seems the battle between darkness and the light cannot continue with so much hate in so many hearts.

    Ignorance, bigotry, prejudice, selfishness, violence … the deep black stains in our DNA might someday be erased but we have a long why to go before that paradise.

  3. Wren, good for you for speaking up. I’ve always been confused by people who are “Christians” who believe in such selfishness. It absolutely makes no sense to me.

    Coincidentally, I read a post by Matt Taibbi right after I read yours. It’s dealing with Wall Street bonuses, not health care, but it talks about the Christianity angle. Taibbi quotes part of a speech some Goldman Sachs guy made in a CHURCH in London recently:

    “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

    Now, let’s all ponder that little nugget for just a second:

    “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest…..We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

    Dear Lord in Heaven, I fear for this world of ours.

    Read the whole post here.

    • I completely disagree with the idea that I should be forced, at the point of a gun, to pay for someone else’s misfortune if I wasn’t responsible for it.

      It’s a terrible thing that you needed all of these operations, all of these doctor visits. It’s a terrible thing. But I am not responsible for it. And, what’s more, I don’t know you. To be honest, I don’t care. Let’s be perfectly honest here. If you dropped dead today, or were swept away to a desert isle, I would not know, I wouldn’t notice, and it wouldn’t change my life in the least. And vice versa– you don’t know me, and if I disappeared, you wouldn’t know it either. You aren’t my sister, my mother, my girlfriend, or my milkmaid. Now, if my MOHTER were to need operations, I would be there for her and give her every cent I had to help her recovery. The feeling I am having now is how DARE you try to place yourself into my life at the very same position as my own mother– expecting me to pay for your medications. No thanks, i need that money for my own family. This is at the heart of why I oppose any sort of government (i.e. tax-payer) funded system of healthcare. It’s bad enough that one’s job /employer has to provide money to pay for one’s health costs. It is so unfair, and seems so wrong, to think that just because I work for you, you should therefore be a slave to my physical needs. But I digress.

      and here is the most beautiful part of it– wait for it– I’m not a Christian. Of any kind. I’m an ATHEIST. One of the beautiful things about discarding religion into the cesspool of history where it belongs is discarding the idea that one should sacrifice oneself for others SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY EXIST. Simply because they draw air. The best thoughts I’ve ever heard is ” No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man.” and that is exactly what tax-payer provided healthcare is. My servitude to you, someone I don’t even know, simply because you have physical needs, and somehoe I OWE you payment for it. Rubbish!

      One of the worst inventions man ever came up with was the idea of the supernatural and of “God”, whether it be Jesus, Allah, Mohammed, Yaweh, Quetzalcoatl, whatever. All demand sacrifice of one kind or another, whether it be of hearts on a platter, our money to those who don’t deserve it, or the lives of innocents such as those at Ft Hood. And the Left’s attempts to use Jesus as a club to beat those who disagree with them into submission makes it very clear to me that rejecting the ideas of Christianity was one of the best things I ever did in my life. Or of any religion whatsoever.

      God has been dead a long time. Let’s keep him dead.
      DS

  4. Can I check something DS, you see I’ve never met any one quite like you (with or without a god of any sort.) If I were to come across you in the street, in a collapsed state, you’d like me to step over you and carry on about my day. You wouldn’t want me to stop and show a little compassion and care for my fellow man? (Unless of course we were related. Which I am 100% sure we are not.)

  5. A) I’m not your “fellow” anything. Fellowship is established and earned through common experiences, common goals, common trials and stresses. So unless you were in my unit while I was in the military, unless you’re one of my comrades in my current work, unless we work for the same company or somehow have a social or civil contract of some kind, etc etc, we aren’t “fellows”. Fellowship means something. it’s earned.
    B) You’re asking me what I “want”. I want riches. I want a $1 million house to live in. I want a BMW in the garage. I want free healthcare for the rest of my life. I want a lot of things. However, and this is exactly the point I was making– the moment someone TELLS you that you MUST provide money/help/healthcare etc etc, and if you don’t provide that help, you will be arrested and taken to jail, that is when it will suddenly become very important for you to NOT help. That is how I’d react. I have no problem providing help to someone, of my own free will. But the moment I am TOLD by any government that I MUST pay for person X’s healthcare, whom i don’t even know, is when it becomes slavery and it suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world NOT to do. The point is there is a big difference between providing someone with help out of kindness, randomly and anonymously, freely… and being TOLD by someone that you MUST give up X number of dollars out of every paycheck to go toward paying for the healthcare of complete strangers.

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