It’s Inhumane and Unchristian Not to Want Someone to Have Healthcare

Sometimes we need to name cruelty plainly, to say it unequivocally, to not dance around it for the sake of decorum:

It’s asinine not to want someone else to have healthcare.

Worse than that, it’s inhumane.

Every single day, I am left in awe of the cruelty we have become afflicted with in this country. When people fight to take life-saving care away from another human being, when they applaud the exclusion of already sick people from coverage, when they rejoice over strangers being denied screenings or medication or surgery, I feel compelled to ask them:

What is wrong with your heart?
How did you make it this far in life without acquiring basic empathy?
If you’re a professed Christian, what is your understanding of your faith tradition, that you would place yourself opposite the side of healing wounds?

This isn’t a political or a financial issue after all, it’s a philosophical and an ethical one. It has nothing to do with funding (because every other developed nation seems to have figured it out), it’s about whether or not you give enough of a damn about another human being, not to place barriers between them and staying healthy or staying alive. This is a pass-fail test of simple decency.

We can get into the weeds of costs and systemic issues and logistical challenges all we want, but that’s avoiding the main truth—that we are interdependent beings; that we are all connected here. When someone is ill, when they lose the ability to work or care for themselves or for their families, when costs of keeping a loved one alive bankrupt them, when people die prematurely—we all suffer. The ripples of these things touch all of us, emotionally, spiritually, tangibly, and yes financially.

It’s bedrock human being stuff to want other people to be well—and the terrors, after all are universal:
The atomic bomb of grief that gets dropped on your family when you get the test results and your planet is altered forever.
The abject terror that befalls you when someone you love is facing a literal fight for their continued existence—and all you want is for them to win it.
The swirling storm that rushes in and overwhelms you; a million questions about outcomes and treatments and percentages and nightmare scenarios.
The bottom immediately dropping out of your sense of peace and safety and normality.
The feeling that everything is suddenly caving in—and at the very least, you hope you won’t lose everything you have trying to keep someone you love alive.

How can we experience any of these devastating moments in our own lives, with our own bodies, with those most dear to us—and simply not be at all interested when another human being finds themselves there? This is unfathomable to me.

Underlying the opposition to universal healthcare is ultimately selfishness; the belief that I am forever living in scarcity, that someone else’s gain must automatically be my loss, that if another person receives, then I might be left with nothing. The level of self-preservation is toxic, but worse than that, there is an insidious, twisted resentment of strangers at work here, that doesn’t want someone else to “get away with something,” to cheat the system and pull one over on us (and you know, not die). This callousness is a national cancer that seems to be metastasizing in these days, and we need to attend to it.

We should stop pretending that this is about making an unreasonable and unprecedented financial sacrifice for someone else. We all pay for roads for everyone, for education for everyone, for missiles for everyone. We can find a way to pay for medicine for everyone. That’s not what this about.

Our shared humanity is at stake here, and you care enough to defend it or you don’t.

Another human being not dying, is either a priority for you or it’s not.

People being allowed to stay healthy and alive and with the people who love them is either a pressing issue—or it isn’t.

If the latter in any of these cases is true, it is the symptom of a far more grave illness.


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19 thoughts on “It’s Inhumane and Unchristian Not to Want Someone to Have Healthcare

  1. …And why do we have a political system, in this ‘developed’ and ‘economically successful’ country, that just refuses to lift this society above many others who are resolving this problem? Who and why and HOW are they pressuring us to be this inhumane and often cruel?.

  2. Thanks so much for this piece. I’m a retired pastor. Over the years I saw parishioners who couldn’t afford life-saving health care. I saw poor people become poorer trying to pay for a family member’s care. I saw middle class and upper middle class people (the latter who thought they could “self-insure” ) go bankrupt. It doesn’t take long in the Intensive Care Unit to drain even a rich person’s savings. We are the richest nation in the world and the only economically advanced nation in the world not to have a universal health care program. That’s heart-breaking – as is each case where people get sicker, die or go broke because they are sick. There is no excuse, so it’s a National shame. And because ours is a Democracy -of, by and for the people, each unnecessarily extended illness or death or bankruptcy becomes a personal responsibility.

  3. I often think about a fact I learned in college, that one of the defining characteristics of humanity (in the sense of when did we as a species stop being another ape and become HUMAN) was the advent of caring for our sick/dying. Animals don’t do this (as a general rule) but humans do.

    America right now isn’t even meeting the basic definition of humanity.

  4. Universal Healthcare seems like a fantastic idea but it just doesn’t work. Since Obamacare, I’ve been shocked by the amount of reports I seen and heard about older individuals noy recieving the same kind of care as they previously did. I thought it was just an coincidence until it hit my family. I’ve buried 10 family members of mine in the padt 3 years. With each going into the hospital, we thought things would be okay. It wasnt. It took weeks to hear back on test results. Nurses and doctors seemed unsure of what was happening. So, for months, we had no answers. By the time anyone figured out what was happening, it was too late. I could inderstand this happening with one maybe two people in our family, but 10!?! Prior to Obamacare, it didn’t seem like this at all. Doctors usually had answers quickly and family members I knew were treated quickly, with or without coverage. I just don’t know. It sounds great in theory but my own experiences along with others in my community has been a different experience.

  5. The atrocities that some Americans are willing to inflict upon their fellow citizens is appalling and must be rooted in hate. I can’t account for it in any other way and those who have attempted to explain how it is not rooted in hate use the language of hate to explain how it isn’t rooted in hate. I suspect their cognitive dissonance is too great to allow them to see the irony.

    As for atrocities some are willing to perpetuate upon non-citizens by denying them health care is so profoundly stupid that I wonder that it doesn’t smack them upside the head.

    One of the many props on the CA ballot in 1994 was one to allow hospitals and ERs from treating undocumented people. The idea was to save money but not only was that prop inhumane, it was also short-sightedly stupid.

    Do we really cease to treat people with communicable diseases such as TB, Hansen’s Disease (leprosy)? Do we risk potential epidemics that cost gazillions in order to save nickels and dimes in the ER? Do we reallyt allow people to die of easily treated causes?
    The people of CA saw through this plot for what it was: racist with an intent to kill non-white people.

    Now, in addition to denying healthcare to undocumented people which is racist at its core, people wish to deny healthcare to their fellow citizens for no reason except those fellow citizens are poor.

    Well, aside from the fact that the mortality rate would soar, the USA would become like a third-world country in its healthcare, readily communicable diseases would communicate and we would have epidemics.

    What more could possibly be not only inhumane but stupid? Come to think of it, inhumanity implies stupidity, doesn’t it?

  6. I know what you’re saying and, as usual, I don’t disagree at all with the substance. But I do feel compelled to point out that Pinocchio not dying is not a priority for me. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

  7. John my friend, I agree with you 100 percent on this one. Universal health care is such a no-brainer that it’s shocking we don’t have it. I finally got on Medicare last year and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I have friends from some of the European countries who scratch their heads in wonder at our mess of a health care system. People should want it just for their own self interest. Anybody can get sick or lose a job. It shouldn’t be a death sentence.

  8. A number of so-called Christian conservatives visit this blog—including Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical preachers. Let’s just ask them to respond to the question:

    “Why are Jesus and you (together) opposed to using government money to meet the healthcare needs of sick people?”

    I think it is a perfectly fair question. How about it fundies? What is your big hangup with this, and why are you willing to so easily and recklessly IGNORE all of the Bible verses about helping those Jesus loved and called “the least of these.” Jesus healed people for free, and the Bible has more than 2,000 verses where God calls upon the people of God to help poor people, sick people, and other people in need.

    Let’s hear it you witless, worthless, two-bit bastards who claim to be Christians. Step on up to the microphone and let it all hang out—right here—right now.

    I’ll even provide you one to start you off—one I have actually heard some of you say:

    “Well, I just don’t trust big government. If we turn our healthcare over to liberals and big government, I might not survive—if I were to get sick. You see. I have a really high social media profile out on the Internet and with a highly conservative bent. If I were to have a stroke, I am afraid liberal, big government thugs would sneak into the hospital and willfully down grade my care and treatment in order to kill me. You know. Not give me that shot of medicine I desperately need just to snuff out my conservative voice. I really think they would. Just look at all the evil big government has done since 1947. It all started with Democrat Harry S. Truman when he officially made service in the U.S. armed forces friendly to the GDF n-words—and it was all straight downhill from there!!!”

  9. The treatment, or actually , the abandonment of treating pain in America is another example of our loss of compassion.
    People are angry at “Drugs”, thinking that
    If Johnny breaks his collar bone, take Percocet, and dies 7yrs later of s Heroin OD, it must be the fault of the Percocet.
    This has led to a blaming discourse, dehumanizing patients and the doctors who treat them. It is plausible, and wrong.
    But now we are pressing as a culture to take pain management away from 25 million patients in agony, the falsely hope it will impact 2.5 million addicts who are dying, not from Percocet but from Heroin/illicit fentanyl analogs. It is so easy to scapegoat patients who have terrible pain: it must be their fault, somehow.
    And the doctors who treat them: they must be drug pushing monsters, it couldn’t be our family addiction secret. We can do better.

    Today we have rallies across the country, Don’t Punish pain.

  10. Remember Alan Grayson’s comment 10 years ago. The Republican health plan says don’t get sick,and if so,die quickly.

  11. To receive the healthcare I need to survive, I am sentenced to poverty. Any glimmer of ambition, or achievement, will result in the termination of benefits that I had to fight to receive in the first place. That’s how we treat the disabled in this country.

  12. Thanks for your thoughts on this– the only thing is– people don’t think they are being cruel because they see and hear only from their world view and unfortunately you can’t help someone see differently in an environment of hostility and finger pointing.

    Anytime, I changed my mind on an issue, my heart changed first because someone cared enough to be kind to me.

    I didn’t change my mind immediately but over time those kind seeds bore good fruit in my heart.

  13. Why is this question only posed to Christians – as if others shouldn’t have to ask themselves the same thing? As if Christianity has a monopoly on requiring people to be good, decent, compassionate, and loving?

    It pains and hurts me, as a Jew, to agree with every single word of this and yet to feel that the message is being transmitted to Christians primarily, instead of to all people. Because only Christians are mentioned, no matter the intent.

  14. If you want a government healthcare system are you willing to give up the right of free choice to your body? We currently have free right to our own health and that goes for choosing to get healthcare. Other countries have socialized medicine because they have given up their bodies to the crown. That’s why they are called subjects. so remember what you all are asking for is to give up the control of your body to Donald Trump.

  15. Please. As if any Christian has anything to say about this. It was inhumane for good Christians to invade “the Americas,” uninvited and unwelcome, and rape, pillage, enslave and murder millions of Natives and Africans. Didn’t slow them down a bit. Christians created this mess. They’re not going to fix it. No one is less humane than good Christians.

  16. My late father, at the age of 80, needed urgent heart surgery. Replacement of a calcified atrial valve. Thanks to a combination of universal Medicare, and his own private health insurance, he walked out of the Canberra Hospital not a penny poorer, with a bonus of nearly 12 more years of good health and activity. And we enjoyed his excellent company for those extra years!

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