Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Asking the Question

The political spin and questionable rhetoric swirling around Washington these days has become downright dizzying. Depending on who we hear speaking on any given day, health care reform either offers salvation for the masses or represents the first step toward federal euthanasia of the elderly and infirm. When political opinion is that oppositional in nature, what in the world are we supposed to believe?

It's all too easy to simply attach ourselves to the opinions being spouted by the members of our own political party, absorb them and regurgitate them without giving them deeper thought. We must, however, remain cognizant of the fact that virtually all politicians direct their loyalty toward their campaign donors first, their party second and their local constituents third. Therefore, we musn't assume the language we're hearing on cable TV or reading in the newspapers is truly for our benefit - more likely it's meant to sway our opinions in support of the hidden agendas of politicians: getting reelected, supporting the corporations and individuals who fund their campaigns and ensuring their party will continue to back them for reelection in the future.

Take the case of Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania. Because Senator Spector, being of high moral standing and independent mind, chose on multiple occasions to oppose his party's platform and instead vote in ways that seemed more in alignment with what made sense for his constituents, he lost the support of the Republican power machine. Ditto for Senator Joe Lieberman. These men, however we might feel about their "politics," exemplify what happens to men of conscience if they resist the machine that is their political party. What happened to them - stripped of their committee memberships, marginalized in Washington circles - stands as a "cautionary" tale for all other members of Congress. Dare to oppose your party's agenda and you risk losing the power to stand for anything.

What are we, the people, supposed to make of the political mess in Washington today? How can we know when our politicians are making decisions for the benefit of us, the regular people, or if they're merely supporting the dominator/power structure that enables them to hold power? When they're talking are they telling the truth, or saying what they want us to hear so we'll fall in line and support their hidden agendas?

There is a question we can ask ourselves to help us "cut through" all the rhetoric, politics and hidden agendas that obscure what's really best for regular people. Unfortunately, the question requires us to set aside our easy attachment to the words of partisan politicians and actually think for ourselves. I recognize that in these days of 24 hour cable news, thinking for ourselves has nearly become obsolete, and that highly paid pundits are willing and eager to do that hard work for us. We shouldn't let them. They too are motivated by money, power, fame and the support of the corporate establishment whose interests don't necessarily align with ours.

What is this question then, that enables us to dig down deep for truth? The question, should you choose to ask it, is this: Does this program/bill/law/idea being proposed support life in all its many and varied forms, or does it exploit life so a few individuals or corporations can profit?

Health care reform presents us with an embarrassingly easy answer. To bring millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans back into the health care fold supports life - particularly the lives of those least able to care for themselves. The wealthy will always be able to afford the best health care our system has to offer, so they're basically undamaged by the proposal. It may cost them a little more in the way of taxes, but they can afford it.

On the other hand, opposition to health care reform seems designed to incite fear and division among the American people. Who's funding it, and why? Of what benefit is it for us to oppose better health care for more people in support of life, with government managing the process to ensure nobody gets left behind? The answer is, it isn't to anyone's benefit - unless they're part of the pharmaceutical or medical insurance machinery. That machinery exploits the needs and fears of the ill and infirm...for money; not out of love and with reverence for life. If you're still unsure about the motives of the health care industry, consider the insurance company policy of rejecting the claims of those with "preexisting conditions." A lover of life would ignore such a label and treat the ill with compassion. A lover of profits rejects the person in favor of the bottom line.

We hear statements from the right these days implying the government is going to "ration" healthcare and people will be denied needed treatment. Laughable really, given the millions who are already being denied the most basic and decent of treatments due to their inability to pay or to their insurance company's greed. We also hear that our deficit will skyrocket if we try to take care of everyone; again laughable, given the many trillions we've just invested to keep the banking industry afloat - for whose benefit? Has your credit card rate declined or your mortgage gotten easier to pay since we gave the banks all that money? Last but not least, we hear that government can't do anything half as efficiently as can private corporations. I ask you this: have you tried to reach anyone in customer service at a private corporation lately? Have you managed to resolve a business dispute with ease, been treated kindly and humanely or been allowed to "work out" a reasonable payment plan if your life became upended by the bank-induced recession through which we're suffering?

It's a simple question really. Does what I'm looking at support life, or does it exploit life? The moment we drop our attachment to our conceptual ideologies and allow our hearts to feel, the truth comes easy. It's why the exploitive game is to generate fear and division; fearful hearts are too constricted to open enough to feel for the lives of others. They're too busy fearing for their own survival.

Don't be fooled by the "divide and conquer" game being played in the political arena. Morality - true morality - doesn't spring from our belief in a set of ideas. It springs from opening our hearts to love and knowing what feels right for us to do, then doing that.

1 comment:

  1. I think the idea of healthcare either supporting or exploiting life - which is, of course, the essence of the matter for anyone giving a damn - isn't really what's at play here. (I might add that we, the easily-led-astray masses, are being fed our daily quota of emotional pap...pro or con... but that's just to keep us simple folk occupied while the powers behind the curtain make their utterly un-altruistic decisions.)

    Those decisions are based solely on our capitalistic obligation to make gobs of money for the elite. If saving lives would further those ambitions, we'd have it tomorrow. If curing AIDS or cancer spun gold in Washington, none of us would ever be sick again.

    Unfortunately in a nation of 400,000,000*, few who have leached themselves atop the ivory towers can see any profit to the notion. Forget the good of humanity (pthhhh, hardly a capitalistic notion) - it remains an issue of dollars and cents.

    Healthcare and our penchant for war should be treated similarly. In either case, front lines or ER lobby, send our elected officials in first. Forget the Marines; send in congress. Whatever attention they demand for themselves - whether an immediate cure or getting the hell out of the trenches - that becomes the national policy. In short time, we will have ended war, have ideal health care, drive better cars, watch better TV and all own a beach house. (In which case, we may have to conquer Baja first. Send in congress.)

    *btw, I've always thought our joy of procreation (not to be confused with that of sex) to be the problem here. 400,000,000 is just way too big a number to sustain itself. And humanely dwindling us down to, say, a nation of 150,000,000 is a whole can of worms unto itself.