This running conversation has been going through my head lately. ( Relax, I told my doctor about it. )
I have some friends in my neighborhood who do not have any health insurance. I have a lot of friends who do not have health insurance. They are educated people with jobs, people who work very hard and live very frugally, people who pay their tithes and pay their taxes, pay their rent and pay their mortgage, people who are active in their churches and spend more than their fair share of time and resources with and for the poor.
They just cannot afford to get sick or to go to the doctor to keep from getting sick. Neither can their children. They are an accident or illness away from losing everything.
So in my head I have been listening to and talking with various and sundry of my friends up and down the pew about the predicament my friends are in, about how we the people, especially the portion of we the people that claim to be the Body of Christ, might bring some of our collective resources to bear on such circumstances.
Some of my friends on the pew say that they do not want the government to help provide health care for these people because it seems socialist, and socialist is code for communist and communist is code for godless, and helping folks with their health care is a slippery slope we do not want to go down. They seem to suggest the word socialist only applies to the notion of a public option for health care these days. They are reasonably certain that the word does not apply to their Medicare benefits or their veterans' benefits or the health care provided for government employees. It does not seem to apply to schools, road construction, or Pell Grants, for that matter.
Some other of my friends along the pew say that they do no want any of their tax dollars to help pay for health care for people who currently have no health care, no matter how the circumstance came about. They do not know who pays when such folks have to go to the emergency room or stay in a public hospital for an extended period. They seem to think it is some other poor soul whose insurance premiums are increasing and whose taxes are eaten up when such things happen.
Some other friends say we the people cannot afford to do such a thing, the deficits will be too high and our children will have to pay. They do believe in deficits for wars, deficits for road construction, deficits for bank bailouts, aid to Israel but not Africa, and deficits for college tuition assistance, as well as for some other stuff.
In my running conversation I have been going back to my insurance-less friends and telling them it will all be okay.
I tell them that all these people up and down the pew are listening to the same Gospel we are — the one where the second commandment is to love your neighbor, like you love your own soul. The Gospel they may even hear some day, and then do something about.
I also remind them to be careful crossing the street, to wash their hands often, and whatever they do, do not go for a checkup.