When I was just a little girl, maybe three or so, I watched my Grandma rest her knees on the floor, bow her head and pray. She prayed for her children, her neighbors, her friends, and for the sick and infirm. I often remember my grandma and her words about prayer and its power. She believed a fervent prayer said with dedication and persistence would bring about the change she desired. My grandma was from the old school; she was raised by a Baptist preacher in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The values she inherited—love of family and community and devotion to service—heavily impacted the things she taught me. All this brings me to the conundrum we have found ourselves in today—the misdirection of our concern with health insurance reform.
My grandma has been gone nearly twenty years, but her words and instruction are as fresh in my mind as if she spoke them yesterday. “Whatever it is child, take it to the Lord in prayer.” She was what I call a progressive Christian. Her mission was to care for those who couldn’t care for themselves. And she loved her neighbors, even when they stole from her or said bad things about her. Regretfully, I am not my grandma, not even close on a good day. But I have been known to take her advice, and when the occasion arises, I pray.
Health insurance reform is needed now. As the discussion continues to focus on costs, deficits, and agendas, no one is addressing the ethical, moral, and spiritual implications of the lives being unnecessarily lost. I’m confused—in a nation where most people consider themselves Christian and identify with the teachings of Jesus Christ—why does this discussion rage on without thought of the sick and infirm? Why do we not talk about our duty and responsibility to care for those in need? Do those who oppose abortion also oppose cutting the lifespan of someone with the misfortune of a pre-existing condition? What about the millions of uninsured children whose parents cannot afford medical care? Health insurance reform is an issue of life and death.
I’m suggesting it’s time we move beyond petty differences and political allegiances and begin to ask ourselves the hard questions. I suggest starting with: Do we really care? Do we care about the nearly fifty million people in America without health insurance? Do we care that the insurance companies are holding everyday, hardworking Americans hostage by raising deductibles, premiums, and co-pays? How would we feel if someone we loved could not get treated for an illness, or if his doctors’ bills put him into bankruptcy? How would we feel if it that someone was ourselves?
The memory of my grandma is pressed in my consciousness. Her words asking God’s love to touch the hearts of ordinary people—so that they might do extraordinary things—are creased into my heart. I want to do what’s right by the ailing or dying who are being hassled by bill collectors. I want to insure that every child has access to dental and medical care when necessary. I want the fifty million uninsured people in America to have the choice to see a doctor or dentist. One of my actions is prayer. I’m praying for the love of God to be evidenced in the hearts and minds of Americans and our elected officials. I’m praying because someone prayed for me. I invite you to do the same.