Worthy of Compassion
Worthy of Compassion?
“It seems heartless, they say, to attribute these sufferings to karma from past lives. The only heartlessness here, though, is the insistence that people are worthy of compassion only if they are innocent of any wrongdoing.” Head & Heart Together by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)
As a Christian, I knew many people that evaluated other people’s worthiness of aid. Part of me understands and another part is repulsed.
I understand the idea of not wanting to throw good money after bad, of some people being better financial investments than others. I have quit tutoring people if I felt they just weren’t making the effort to learn. My time is valuable and I treat it as such.
On the other hand, I am revolted by the idea that health care is for the deserving, that, for example, gays shouldn’t have access to publicly-funded health care because of the risk of AIDS. I believe that part of the reason conservative states do not provide Medicaid for single, child-free adults is to avoid covering gays. There are many problems with this perspective.
irst, we are all paying for them anyhow already. That’s why hospitals charge $8 for two aspirin—to defray the cost of uninsured folks. Also, it is much, much cheaper to pay for a round of antibiotics or a mammogram than for a systemic infection or chemotherapy. Preventive health care is way less expensive than emergency care.
econd, and this is my most important point: Almost all illnesses and problems have some degree of the individual creating them. Not just STDs. Heart disease, obesity, lung cancer, cirrhosis, high blood pressure, and almost everything else have a lifestyle component. Some of the unhealthiest lifestyles I have ever seen have been in the evangelical Christian community. I will never forget the first time I saw M.R. He weighed at least three hundred pounds and was stacking his plate as high as it would go at a potluck. I remember thinking, “This guy is a heart attack waiting to happen.” A few years later, he had a stroke, no shock. Should he not receive care because of his dietary indiscretions?
hile the conservative Christian community was declaring AIDS to be God’s punishment on gays (as if only gays got it), the San Francisco Zen Center was on the cutting edge of palliative care and hospice for AIDS patients.
Which community do you think I would rather align myself with? This is why I am deeply ashamed for people to think I might be one of those Christians. And part of why I am leaving church in a few weeks, maybe forever.
Health care is a right, not a privilege for the deserving.
What I wish is that Republicans would come up with an alternative to Obamacare. Then Americans could choose. “No” is not a choice for the 40 million uninsured Americans. Will Obamacare suck? Undoubtedly, especially in the beginning, but at least it is an attempt to cover the 40 million instead of protecting at all costs the pocketbooks of the middle class and wealthy. What I hear conservatives saying is, “I would rather protect my checking account than help pay for my neighbor’s chemotherapy.” Ick.
Compassion is for everyone. We all make bad choices.