Here’s a question: what does Beauty have to do with the health-care debate?
I’m not much of a political animal. Whether that’s a badge of honor or shame depends on who you talk to, but it’s getting harder to avoid getting drawn into the “debates” (read mud-slinging) about health-care, economics, race, and other areas of social concern and justice. My reticence about entering these discussions is two-fold: 1) Too often, such “discussion” descends into language and tone that is neither informative or anything close to beautiful. Anger–make that fury–seems to be the prevailing stance, with people talking over each other in embarrassingly rancorous behavior. 2) I just don’t know enough to contribute to the discussion meaningfully, though why that stops me is unclear…ignorance doesn’t seem to stop anyone else. And in saying that, I recoil–here I am throwing my own mud less than a half-dozen sentences in. “Ignorance” is a tacky, mocking word in the above sentence, and I used to make me feel better about my own position. I may not know much, but at least I’m willing to admit it.
That’s called being proud of your humility.
See, I hate these discussions.
But someone very close to me is now being impacted by this whole health-care thing, and as they say, all politics is personal. (Does anybody say that, or did I make that up?) So I find that I’m going to have to marshal my personal resources to do some learning. The questions about health-care are daunting: is access to medical care a basic human right? Who is a society responsible for, and how far does that responsibility reach? What is the moral imperative of a statistic like “24.9% of the people of Texas are uninsured?” What role does individual responsibility play in the long-term outcomes of life? (This is the “it’s your own fault” argument, implying that when someone lands in the ditch by their own machinations [taking who knows how many other people right into the ditch with them], their own machinations have to get them out, thereby allowing me to keep my machinations for myself.) What is “stupid” poverty, especially in America? (It’s easier to identify in developing nations. [Or is that statement an indication of some kind of hidden upper-class bias? Aaackk! There’s no escaping it…]) What are the national values that are reflected in the answers to the above? (See Newsweek’s article–No Country for Sick Men–about how the decisions nations make on who gets health insurance coverage reveal their national value and character.) How best are Christ’s values lived out in the midst of these questions? And questions like “Who would Jesus Insure?” [and here, and here, and here, and here] seem near silly, especially if you believe that the Kingdom of God is somehow diminished by the uneasy mix of faith and politics we’ve seen so often in recent years, on both right and left.
But here’s the thing, in my view: life–the human experience–is one. What I mean is that our values, what we cherish, what we believe (or don’t believe), what we hold to be good, true, and beautiful–all this, as they say, will out. The philosophical debates, the ideas that stand behind these dramatically practical issues (real people with real names with real families that watch them suffer die over these things) will inform every category of our lives. Even if we are divided (“Life is NOT one”, someone retorts. “Don’t you realize we live in a time of deeply fractured experience? Don’t you realize we live on the other side of the fall? Life is NOT one…we are broken.”), that very dividedness will permeate each category of life. Religion (or call it “faith” if you don’t like the word “religion”), politics, entertainment, relationships, morality, sexuality–all of it flows from what’s inside our totality, our combined heart, mind, soul, and strength.
This whole thing is challenging me to rethink some very basic values. And though I called it near silly above, I can’t think of a better person to ask about all of this that the Christ. So I’ll be working on that in the next few days, because I’ve got some decisions to make about the best ways to help those I love–some of whom I know, some of whom I don’t.
So now, I’m out of room in this post, so the first question I asked–what does Beauty have to say about all this–will have to wait. But I ask in the spirit of knowing that Truth, Goodness, and Beauty have always stood together. And no doubt Truth and Goodness are at the heart of the debate, so Beauty has to be lurking, wanting to have its say, bringing its own insight. And I don’t hear anyone else talking about it in those terms, so…