Social Justice – American Style
Over the past few weeks I have been scratching my head over the confusion that some have about Obama turning us into a Socialist state. It’s a popular topic over at the Fox cable network as well as a daily rant on hate radio. But I’m really not sure (1) if people understand what socialism really is and (if they did) (2) why do they think progressives are leading the country into socialism. I suppose a thin argument could be made that helping people become equal through access might be construed as socialism, but so is social security and the armed forces. The common good with the emphasis on “common” needs to be our way forward as a nation. “Me-first-ism” is not a healthy model to use to make this country work. The reading of the Constitution on the republican dominated House floor and the responsibilities laid out in the document for all our citizens should eliminate any “me-first-ism.” Unfortunately people will hear what they want to hear. I love the Republican talking point title for the move to repeal the health care bill adding “job-killing health care” which any sane reader would see as a very silly title. Sure, let’s knock 32 million people off the roles and let those kids with pre-existing conditions fend for themselves. That’s charitable. (I’m being sarcastic here in case you didn’t pick it up.) I encourage you to check it out for yourself. I can’t give you everything.
Getting back to the point of this article and speaking of charity and social justice. I just thought a short primer to determine the difference between charity and justice (since we are social beings…I’ll call it “Social Justice”). Let me tell you an old story to demonstrate the difference between the two words I added a few things: I guy is standing by a river and a body floats by. The man jumps in the water, pulls the body out of the water, holds a funeral and buries the body. A little while later another body floats down the river. The man jumps in again, pulls the body out of the water, holds a funeral and buries next to the first. This happens five more times. After the 7th body floats down the river, the man scratches his head and decides to go up river to find out who’s throwing the bodies into the water. This simple story demonstrates the acts of charity that the man performs by pulling the bodies out of the river and respectfully holding a service and burying the bodies in the earth. The justice part kicks in when he starts to ask the simple question, “why?” Why are the bodies floating down the river? Can he do something about it? We don’t know, but besides the here and now work he is doing, he is also looking at the system that caused the bodies to be thrown into the water in the first place. As Dom Helder Camara of Brazil once said “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.” I guess it may be best not to ask “why?”
Health care reform is the justice piece of this story. No longer do we need to hear the individual nightmare stories of individuals being thrown off their health care policies because they got sick(er). Or of sick kids not being allowed policies. Or of anyone with a pre-existing condition being denied insurance. Often times, all of these individuals if they are lucky depend on the charity of others. Now the justice piece of addressing the systems that allow such inhumanity for our citizens was addressed. The weapon is the imperfect, but better than nothing H.R.3590 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Today in a symbolic gesture by the Republican House of Representatives to repeal the bill, passed. The real vote will come later. With justice for all, they seem not to care about throwing 32 million people out of the mix to obtain insurance. But want to allow the insurance companies to raise rates without concern and whenever, to allow them set annual limits on just how much health care an individual can get and allow the insurance companies to deny an individual a policy for a pre-existing condition. Oh, by the way, repealing the health care law will add 280 billion (with a b) to the ballooning deficit. Is this justice? Well we already know it would be charity for the insurance companies. But, really, who will bury the bodies? Keep it up Republicans you’re doing a “heckava a job, already.”
and so it goes