Forty-seven years ago yesterday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most famous speeches in American history. I am ashamed to admit that--until tonight--I had never watched the speech in its entirety.
If you're like me and you've never seen it, or if you've watched it many times...take a few minutes and allow the words of an American prophet to move you.
Word, Dr. King. Word.
So...since no one else will be blogging about this subject, I thought I'd step up and fill the gap.*
As I reflect on the passage of the historic healthcare reform bill, I wonder how America's Christians are reacting. Some thoughts...
To my brothers and sisters on the Left who are rejoicing at the passage of the healthcare reform bill, a gentle reminder: This bill does nothing to eliminate Christ's mandate for us to personally care for the poor. If history is any judge, the government will struggle to oversee the massive task they've just voted to put on their own plate. Bureaucracy, inefficiency, and corruption may well swallow up their good intentions. We Christians must stand in the gap that's left.
To my brothers and sisters on the Right who are lamenting the passage of this bill, may I gently suggest the possibility that we (I) have failed to live out Christ's directive to care for those less fortunate than us? Perhaps if we as the Church cared for the poor, marginalized, needy folks in the world as our founder did...then maybe, just maybe...Congress wouldn't have had to step up and do what we were capable of, but refused to do.
I recently read Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution (which I highly recommend) and I thought this excerpt was striking (and applicable to those on both ends of the political spectrum).
It is much more comfortable to depersonalize the poor so we don't feel responsible for the catastrophic human failure that results in someone sleeping on the street while people have spare bedrooms in their homes. We can volunteer in a social program or distribute excess food and clothing through organizations and never have to open up our homes, our beds, our dinner tables. When we get to heaven, we will be separated into those sheep and goats Jesus talks about in Matthew 25 based on how we cared for the least among us. I'm just not convinced that Jesus is going to say, "When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way and they fed me," or, "When I was naked, you donated clothes to the Salvation Army and they clothed me." Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He seeks concrete acts of love: "you fed me...you visited me in prison...you welcomed me into your home...you clothed me."
My life has seldom lived up to Christ's words. May God have mercy on me and grant me strength to do better.
*That was sarcasm, just in case you didn't catch it.
If the inequality of the American healthcare system is so appalling, then why is it not even more appalling that those in third World countries have even worse healthcare?
After all, if there's a moral mandate to fix inequality, then it applies across international borders. No American should receive any elective treatment until every human being in every country of the world receives the vital, lifesaving treatments that they need.
It seems to me that very few Americans who lobby for "universal healthcare" really mean that. What they really mean is "cheaper and better healthcare for me, for those I love, or for some nebulously defined 'underprivileged Americans'".
If we as a nation were really concerned about injustice, then we'd be doing something about the glaring global inequalities that are all around us.
Just an observation...
The random thoughts of a passionate moderate who is incurably addicted to music, practical philosophy, and learning new things.