Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Power without wisdom or love

Back in the 90's there was a Rich Mullins song I used to love singing along with in the car, and the refrain went like this:

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God.

Religion was easier in those days: I was working for the church -- a hierarchical church at that -- and the God I worshiped and celebrated was primarily male and all powerful. Yes, there was wisdom and love in the picture, but mostly the deal was that he was in control: that if my own life appeared to be spinning out of control, I could rest assured that HE was IN control, and all would turn out for the best.

Years later I find I still have remnants of that old belief system in me that surface from time to time. It's not that I still believe it, it's just that it's planted so deeply it's hard to shake. And no matter what I know or believe at this point in my life, there is still a part of me that longs for the innocent sense of safety and assurance that old understanding brought.

For some reason that makes me think of the current debate on health care, because in a lot of ways it seems entangled with that same old belief system. There was an innocence to those old beliefs, that if we set aside some money for the insurance gods every month, our needs would be taken care of. That if we went to a doctor, our illness would be cured. That if we needed drugs or surgery as part of that cure, they would be paid for.

But of course there's that key word, money, in that picture, and somehow whenever money gets involved, human greed has a way of messing up the system -- whether it's a religious system or an insurance system. Processes and procedures originally designed to protect and serve become rigid and expensive, and soon the whole business becomes centered on getting more money for the few rather than providing solace for the many. Wisdom and love take a back seat, and power reigns unchecked.

This downward spiral is allowed to continue primarily because we who could work for change still carry this implanted longing for the good old days: for the good old God who would watch over us and take care of us; and for the good old insurance companies that were made up of folks like us who had our own best interests at heart. We who grew up in that world have trouble accepting that decades of unchecked greed have corrupted the system, and turn a blind eye to those millions whom the system no longer serves.

Desperate to believe the stories we are fed by corrupt media and false advertising, we refuse to accept responsibility, either for ourselves or for each other, and linger instead in this imaginary world, hoping things will get back to normal and blaming the messengers who tell us it's time for change. And the angry vehemence with which so many cling to those old ways seems reminiscent to me of the fury with which the South once clung to slavery and prejudice.

It feels odd to write about this here, in a place where I am more often speaking of peace and love; of presence, wisdom and compassion. But what is wise or loving about allowing a system to continue that gives the wealthy free viagra and a choice of doctors and allows the rest of the nation -- and I am thinking, not just of the indigent poor, but of the newly unemployed, and our young people; of our artists and our laborers; of all the hardworking people who toil on our farms, in our grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants, who fix our streets and plumbing, who build our homes and collect our garbage -- that allows them to suffer and die because they cannot afford healthcare; that allows them to lose all their savings because one family member gets sick, or to be stuck in dead-end jobs because of pre-existing conditions?

There's nothing wise or loving about the insurance gods. And with only power left to claim, they are definitely not awesome.

1 comment:

Relishing Life said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings on this health care mess. Many times I've wondered about the huge resistance of those in power to see the bigger picture, to see that there are other people beyond their world. I too an angered and frustrated and I still carry the hope that the current administration can creat a change. Blessings to you, Barb Fox