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Christmas values

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Christmas values

Christmas values

The power of the Christmas season can transform the extremely thrifty into generous philanthropists. But once the lights go dark and the Christmas tree is discarded, old habits return. A child delighted with gifts from Santa might ask, “Why can’t it always be Christmas?” Adults touched by the spirit of peace and brotherhood loose in the land might wonder how to sustain a more caring and loving relationship among people.

America has been wrestling with this question for several months. Does the nation have a duty to provide medical care for its citizens? Stated another way, can funds provided by taxpayers be used to provide universal health care? One side believes that to do so is a major step toward dreaded socialism. The other asserts that health care for all is a required provision of the social contract.

Since every industrialized nation provides some form of affordable and universal health care for its citizens, there is strong support for the “social contract” argument. While America has never been a theocracy, it was nonetheless founded as a Christian nation. At Christmas time, it is well to consider what are the Christian relations between people as dictated by the Bible.

The Bible is clear on that point. When asked what is the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matthew 22:37-40)

According to the Bible, a lawyer, seeking an escape clause in this statement of the law, raised a question about how to identify one’s neighbor. Jesus told the parable of the Samaritan who helped a stranger who has been left wounded by robbers. Others had passed him by, but the Samaritan bound his wounds and took him to an inn where he paid the innkeeper to look after the man. (Luke:29-37)

The lawyer had to acknowledge that the Samaritan who showed mercy to the wounded man was the good neighbor. Jesus then commanded “go and do thou likewise.”

There could not be a clearer biblical injunction in support of the health care bill. Of course, Republicans stand in united opposition to the bill, and conservative Democrats have forced the removal of several provisions, including the public plan and the attempt to provide a buy-in to Medicare at age 55. But there is still much left in the present health bill including: no discrimination because of pre-existing medical conditions; no cancellation of policy when a subscriber falls ill; financial aid for citizens with incomes too low to afford insurance; and, tax breaks for small businesses that provide insurance.

This bill is far from perfect but it is the best that we can do now. Attempts at health care reform have failed over the past 50 years. However, once they become law, safety net provisions can be amended and improved. For example, Medicare was actually an amendment to the Social Security program.

It is disappointing that so many of our senators and members of congress are so willing to walk past so many hurting Americans who have been left on the road without medical attention.