Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Are You a Sheep or a Goat?

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

My first real encounter with universal health care was in 1977 when I was a student studying in Paris, France. This was foreign to me in many ways. First, I had grown up in a home where you only went to the doctor after a barrage of home remedies had failed to work. There were no annual check-ups or preventive care of any kind. We went to the doctor after the sore throat had advanced to something more serious. There were no dental cleanings and check-ups, so you went to the dentist when a tooth hurt, which usually meant decay beyond saving the tooth.

My mother and aunt worked to support us. They were a part of the working poor who had no health or dental insurance. Fortunately for us as children, we did not know that we were supposed to have preventive health care or dental care. That was life for us and we did not know otherwise. So when the other international students in Paris told me about getting a student identification card, I did not understand that getting that card would also provide health insurance for me. Like other students in Paris, I was issued an identification card, given a check-up, and given immunization updates, including a tuberculosis vaccine. As a student, I wondered back then why such benefits were not available to American students back home. Now, I know why.

The health care debate and bill have caused demons of all kinds to surface as those who have expressed opposition to it have responded in less than civil ways. Their responses have shown us the conditions of their hearts, which for many is not pretty. We have seen folk take to the streets, use racial slurs with regard to President Obama, and most recently, engage in violence toward supporters of the health care bill. Our legislators have been bombarded with phone calls from the “religious right” in staunch opposition to the health care bill, and I have even heard Christians on television say that this health care bill is rooted in Karl Marx’s socialism. They make the stretch that if it’s rooted in socialism, then, it’s anti-Christian because Marx said that “religion is the opium of the masses.” I will not begin to attempt to explain what Marx meant, but I do know that Gandhi said that he might have become a Christian if he had ever met one. That does not bode well for Christians.

For the record, those of us who have enjoyed the benefits of police protection, fire protection, use of public libraries, and bought school lunches have all benefited from socialized services. Yes, if you paid for your child’s school lunch today, you participated in a socialized service. If school children actually paid the full cost of their lunches, more of us would send sack lunches to school with our children. So, although we say we do not want socialism of any kind, we have already been willing and active participants in and recipients of socialized services. Why do we want to draw the line when it comes to health care for all?

Although the world would have us to think that we are supposed to look out for ourselves first, that is not biblical. We are to love God first, our fellow man second, and ourselves third. We are to love others just as we love ourselves. Of those who are in opposition to heath care for all, how many would not want health care for themselves? Probably not many would want to not have health care, if any. We all want to feel, think, and believe that if we have a health concern that we have access to the services and medicines we need in order to make us feel better and prolong our lives. We want to live.

In the parable of “The Sheep and the Goats” found in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells us that when the Son of Man returns in His glory, He will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be on the right, because they are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of God. They are the ones who took care of the hungry, thirsty, homeless, needy, sick, and imprisoned. The goats will be on the left and will be sent to the eternal fire because they did not take care of the hungry, thirsty, homeless, needy, sick and imprisoned. Jesus went on to tell the people that if they did not serve “one of the least of these” they did not do it for Him. So, today as we all debate the issues related to health care, are you a sheep or a goat? Choose you this day what you will be, a sheep or a goat. Just understand the consequences of your choice.

This health care bill has the potential to transform health care for many families. Did you know that all children will now be covered, and that they can be covered up to age 26? That is a win-win for families. Did you know that preventive care will be free? Remember the annual check-ups? These are just a couple of the benefits of this health care bill. All of our lives have the potential to change with better health care coverage for all.

For those of you have have the potential to be goats, take the time to take another look at the health care bill.