Over the top reaction

I continue to be amazed at the response of people to the health care reform that passed into law with the President’s signature on Tuesday. Lawsuits by states and even cowardly violence have been happening by a few unstable people. Even Sarah Palin, the “Christian values candidate” is putting up inflammatory posts on her facebook site. She actually posted a map of the US and there are cross-hairs, yes gun sites, on specific states where congressmen and women voted for this law and were districts that went to McCain-Palin in the previous election. She is using gun imagery to encourage people to aim at taking back these districts. The imagery is over the top, incendiary and unnecessary. And She wants to be president?

A “tea-party” group posted an address that was supposed to be the address of a congressman on the web. It turned out to be his brothers address and someone cut his propane line to his BBQ: a dangerous and unacceptable action. Here is a quote from the Article found on NBC:

Tea party activists had posted the brother’s address online thinking it was the congressman’s home. The post urged opponents to drop by and “express their thanks” for the Democrat’s vote in favor of the sweeping health care reform…Nigel Coleman, chairman of the Danville Tea Party, said he re-posted the comment that originated on another conservative blog, including the address, Monday on his Facebook page. The posts were taken down after the mistake was discovered. “We’ve never been associated with any violence or any vandalism,” he said. “We’re definitely sorry that we posted the incorrect address” (italics mine).

Wasn’t the original “tea party” to which this group derives its name a violent act? If it is the same one I learned about in history, it was violent. The dictionary calls violent a use of force to hurt or kill someone or something. The tea party was a group of people who took matters into their own hands and put tea owned by someone other than themselves in the harbor, ruining it. It was done to hurt or damage and it was done through force. So maybe the tea party quote above isn’t so accurate and it seems that their actions recently have carried on the earlier tradition.

There were many many things that happened at the hands of the last administration and were things to which I felt a moral opposition and was an opposition that many shared. What was done about that? Marches, protests but not violence. There have been bricks sailing through democratic representatives business offices, threats made that they should die. What poor losers are some of conservative America, who can’t express their opposition without implicitly or explicitly associating that statement with violent words or imagery.  While the lawsuits by states does not fit this extreme response, I personally still feel that they are an over the top response to which I am in complete disagreement.

A doctor friend of mine once said that lack of self-control is evil. I am wondering if he doesn’t have a point. Not that I am calling or defining that all these people are inherently evil, but its not goodness that is driving the actions or words that many adults are choosing in response to this historic law. There are many many Americans for whom this law is a reason to celebrate, a hopeful thing, an appropriate answer to a moral problem that has existed in our country for too long and I am one of those people. Senator McCain said that he is “repulsed by the euphoria” that he sees some have around this law’s passage. Well I am repulsed by the ignorance of actions and words aimed at instigating a riotous response, not a reasoned one.

Heath care Reform isn’t perfect

Today in my conversations with others over health care reform, I keep hearing the comment that this bill or universal care equals “perfection”.  There is no perfect government, no perfect political perspective and no perfect system of health care.  Some of the examples of universal care in other countries are much more efficient and, I would say, better than the system we have in the U.S.

For me the issue is believing that we are responsible to each other.  I believe that I should do all that I can do and support all that I can support to help out others, even if that were to cost me.  I also don’t believe that “business” or has any ability to help the least of those among us, because it is all about profit and not about people.  At least that is what capitalism looks like in the US.

I think that while this legislation will not be perfect, and it will have much that will need to be adjusted, corrected or removed as we experience the reality of such a program, it is still far better than continuing with over 30 million people unable to afford health insurance or unable to access it because they are  too sick and therefore too big of a loss for the insurance company’s profit margin.  In fact, if I were to label something as “immoral”  it would be big business and big insurance companies.  Profit never works for the poor, only the rich.  I for one think that insurance should be mandated as “not for profit” so that they only job is to pay health care bills.  Then there would be no conflict of interest.  I think we could go a lot further and have a public option!

Guns, American Conservatism & Jesus?

On my drive each morning to drop my son off at school, I drive past a normal looking yellow house. What is interesting to me about this house is not its color, or where it sits, but the political and religious statements that the occupant displays in his homemade yard signs. It is this commonly held, yet incongruent relationship I see in my nation and especially in my state of residence, to which my comments are aimed today. Now I freely admit that I am speaking about my perceptions of culture and even regarding the intent behind the signs in yard of the above mentioned residence. But, I believe that they are accurate.

Late last year the residence and it occupants mentioned above displayed a sign which obviously indicated much about them: their political leanings, their views about gun ownership, and most clearly a frustration with the current political happenings, i.e. Obama and the democrats. The sign in the front yard read: “Bitter Gun owner and I vote.” While I certainly noticed the sign back in the fall of 2008 and obviously haven’t forgotten its message, my reason for mentioning it today isn’t solely related to that occurrence.

This morning as I drove by, I saw a sign in the front yard that read: “Easter season, Jesus is risen,” which is a phenomenon that will play out all over our city, and I imagine, all over our country in the coming weeks because of the Easter holiday. I am not really even commenting about that occurrence specifically. I myself and a Christian and am looking forward to and preparing for this most sacred time of the Christian year.

What I do want to comment about is the relationship that I see in my nation, and in my own state and city between religion, conservatism and guns. The people who live at the above mentioned residence are a classic example to me of the alliance of perspective that has been drawn between the “right to bear arms” and self designated following of one who spoke against violence and even laid his life down, submitting himself as victim to such violence so that we might see life by the sword for what it really is, unrighteous and egocentric. Additionally, many of these folks also loathe the “liberals” and “democrats” because of their orientation toward social action and compassion toward the least in our midst and their tendency to use monies from taxation to accomplish this. Now between these two tendencies which fits more with the life and ministry of Jesus? Now some will say that guns are not the main ideology on which most conservatives and republicans are centered, or at least some. But, I would say that from my perspective, it is one of the biggies.

Another fundamental theme which I see in the conservative perspective is “capitalism”. It seems that the market is expected to bring healing to most of our woes, the way to fix most anything that culturally ails us is to reduce taxes and promote business. The problem that I see with this is that what actually seems to happen is the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Profit, which drives the business world, is kept rather than shared. Profits come from limiting the gain of those utilized in production so as to increase the bottom line. This is a huge part of the problem with health care today, insurance companies are in the business to make a profit, not to pay medical bills. Every medical claim is a potential loss, a reduction in profit. Yet the parables of Jesus (see Luke 14 and 16) seem to rail against this accumulation mentality and Jesus seems to point rather that wealth should be used to help those who are less fortunate. If fact I see nothing in the teaching, life and ministry that supports the values that American culture values in capitalism. Rather I see that Jesus words, life and teaching condemn much that I perceive in our consumer and business orientation.

I am not saying that I live the teachings and life that I am called to live as a Christian; I don’t nor do any of us. What I am commenting on is the fundamental themes that I see in this conservative world view: Guns, Business and Jesus. I find them to be incongruent. Yet it seems that this incongruence seems to be a blind spot. Now I have postulated much from my perspective. What do you think?