I’d like to offer a few thoughts concerning the current political discourse revolving around the health care debate. I’ve often asked myself; how can man/people love God who he/they cannot see, but cannot love the physical being of a man who he can see? If we were about to witness the Second Coming of our Lord, another question would be; what would Jesus say? Believing and knowing that his life was lived in service of the least of thee and also died for our sins - I wonder if he would react much in the way he did with the thieves in the temple.
I’ve watched the outrageous antics displayed during many of these town hall meeting where the opponents of something as morally correct as helping the sick are just “acting a fool”. Many of these folks are Republicans, it’s safe to assume, who believe in the sanctity of marriage, call themselves compassionate conservatives or Christian Conservatives, and believe in the right to life. Yet, they display such outrage and bigotry over an issue that would greatly benefit so many lives.
These are, many of them, the same folks who don’t believe our current elected president is the president. In this democracy to be qualified for the job one needs to be born in America to which most reasonable people would agree Hawaii, where records clearly indicate President Obama was born, is part of America. Then of course one must be elected by a majority of voters, which he was and by some accounts a “Landslide”. These same folks are all for bringing democracy to countries around the world but they apparently are not willing to accept it when it works here. I suppose this is the hypocrisy of democracy.
While watching television coverage of the town hall debates my thoughts were, I’ve seen this before – like in 1960. At one town hall event a news report covering the issue asked someone attending the rally; what are your concern? She said, “We want our country back”. As if the country was overthrown. The elderly woman went on to say “she wanted to restore the country back to what the founding fathers wanted in the Constitution”.
I looked at her wondering if she was aware that the Constitution was signed in 1887 by all white men excluding everybody but them. The founding fathers she referred to lived in a time when they owned human beings as chattel and women had no rights whatsoever. Nonetheless, she was correct in that the Constitution affords us the right to free speech no matter how ridiculous it might be.
In her rage, she also said she does not want the government in her life making medical decisions for her. Hmmm – like the insurance company’s and HMO’s are doing now, if you are lucky enough to have insurance. She went on to say that “Obama wants the government to kill old people, socialize medicine, and take away our Medicare”. The lady who looked to be in her seventies and was wearing a t-shirt that said supports the troops obviously did not understand that both entities are government systems providing medical services that are socialized not to mention, I am sure, took advantage of Social Security. To be respectful, this lady was surely among the low information crowd.
Standing near her in the frame of my television screen were people carrying signs with an erratic horary of issues. The most disrespectful was a sign that had the president looking like Hitler, arguably the worst man to every live. This might just be the reason for the Nazi remarks that could very well be a codeword for N- --- (n word) much in the way they throw around words like communist or socialist when referring to our president. Let’s be clear, the real issue is the face of what America looks like; a black President, a Jewish Chief of Staff, newly appointed Latin Supreme Court Justice, a woman Speaker of the House of Representatives – faces of ultimate power that are no longer all white men.
I don’t have to go back thirty or forty years because these people are the same ones we saw last summer attending rallies held by President Obama’s campaign opponent. However, I am old enough to remember the Jim Crow era when bigotry was a way of life and segregation was the law of the land. The problem is, I think, most African Americans have forgotten what it was like to be “Colored” and in spite of wanting to forget that myself I believe we are about to have a “Columbus Experience”. By that I mean we are going to discover America that “Real America” the one that the now former Governor decried during the presidential campaign. Because the actions of these people are eerily similar to the racism of a time I’d hoped to never see again.
I am an avid history buff. I just love knowing about the past because to know it and understand it allows you a glimpse into the future. For example, I can recall somewhere around 1860 when there was a movement by many states with a perverse idea called “secession”, which occurred and the United States split into two countries. The reason, as we all know, was about money and the profits gained from the institution of Slavery. Today the issue has again been raised for the same reasons – money, profits, and race.
Recently conservatives held what they called “Tea Parties” in many cities around the nation because they believe the country is going in the wrong direction. I suppose this was to symbolize the Boston Tea Party where the colonists were planting the seed of revolt. It is the same thing that was done in 1860 - revolt. Before I go on, let me say that they seemed to forget what course the nation was on during the last eight years when terror was the main concern.
When you talk about secession and government revolt – it’s called treason and that is brought about by terror. As much as we’ve heard about terror over the last eight years this mindset/behavior rises to the level of a greater evil. Let me highlight the most inflammatory act perpetrated to date. The other day a protester showed up for a town hall meeting held by the President of the United States - ARMED. “Strapped”, yes with a gun – a side arm in plain view where the president was speaking.
At another town hall event there was a guy arrested by the Secret Service because the protester was holding a sign that said he wanted to kill President Obama and his whole family. At the same event there were several signs that said, “Death to the tyrant”. This can’t be simply about health care reform. It’s been reported that the president receives 4-5 hundred death threats a day and with America’s horrible history of assassinations we should be very concerned. Let’s not forget the decade of the 1960’s where we lost a President, a King, an X, a Senator, and several other prominent leaders to assassination.
The actions of these people and let’s not leave out the radio commentators they listen to, who want the president to fail, spew their venom creating a very dangerous environment reminiscent of the 1960’s. Surely there are a lot of mean spirited evil people in this world and evil is not usually associated with Jesus. Therefore, I think we know what Jesus would say, maybe something like - let’s turn to each other not on each other.