A couple of weeks ago, I had intended to write a blog on the issue of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) and its impact on the chronically ill community. The issue was before the supreme court again. I am bothered by the political conversations that so often leave out the ones who will suffer the most if the courts were to strike down the ACA.
When my wife left full-time teaching, we no longer had guaranteed insurance. When we signed up for “Obama Care,” it wasn’t a political decision but a survival one. I’ve talked to others who are covered by the ACA, and the consequences of it being struck down suddenly would be dire. Regardless of your political position on government subsidized healthcare, to callously not care what would happen to hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people with pre-existing conditions just so your “team” could get a political win is strong evidence that there’s something wrong with you. Yes, you.
I’m sorry if that stings, but it is disturbing to witness the lack of empathy being demonstrated in our political mudslinging. I couldn’t just write about ACA to emphasize the need to care about those who need it to survive because I’ve been too stunned by the heartless rhetoric being shouted across the graves of more than a quarter million Americans who have died of Covid!
The worst–other than the outlandish conspiracy theories that treat the whole thing as a hoax–is the callous and ill-informed mantra of the 99% that will get the disease and be okay. It as if millions of people can completely tune out the tearful pleas of our doctors and nurses, who are begging us to take this serious as they have had to hold the hand of another patient dying in isolation, or have seen another semi-truck arrive at their hospital to be a makeshift morgue.
First of all, followers of Jesus might remember the pastoral example of his own parable in Luke 15. Jesus is the shepherd who leaves the 99 to rescue the 1. Even if only 1% die from COVID, we should care about every one of those people. But keep in mind, that many people suffer greatly who do not die. Either their lives were irrevocably changed by a long stay in ICU and/or they become COVID long haulers.
Second, it has never been about the percentage of people dying. That percentage is contextually dependent upon the availability of care at the time of their medical crisis. As we continue to deplete our medical resources and ICU availability, that number will go up. Millions will die while myopic people rant about it affecting only 1%. This 1% (though again, I dispute that characterization) are the most vulnerable, those we Christians are most called to care for.
I have listened to many who struggle with chronic illness for years tell stories of not being believed by doctors. This is an unacceptable wrong, and we all know how valuable it is to find a doctor who will believe us. How strange is it now that we are not believing our doctors (and other healthcare professionals). I’ve seen an ICU nurse called a liar by several people on Twitter just for saying his hospital morgue was full.
I’ve also seen this notion circulated that we should let the medically vulnerable stay at home and the rest of us get on with our lives. This is such a callous attitude for so many reasons, but let’s start with the assumption that it is an option for all medically vulnerable people to stay at home! Many of us would lose our livelihoods if we did that. Many of us have school children. We can’t just withdraw from society! But that you would desire it means there’s something wrong with you. Yes, you.
Do I seem angry? You bet I am. I am angered nearly every day by the layers of disinformation and the daily merciless dismissal of so much humanity. Sometimes I can’t believe this is how we are not as a society. I ask all the time, “What is wrong with us?”
But the truth is most people don’t think there’s anything wrong. Or they just see their political opponents as having all the problems. Just be careful you don’t trip over any bodies on your way to throwing your next political punch. God, have mercy.