In Soviet Russia, blog writes you!

We, of course, do not live in Soviet Russia, and here in America things only get done if you take them into your own hands. And so, since Melissa is off at camp and this blog is unable to write itself, I will be your guest host today. My name is Matthew and I enjoy long walks on the beach, baseball, apple pie, and punctuation. I will start by apologizing in advance to Melissa, who tries to keep this space as politics-free as possible.

Over the last couple of years I have become more and more interested in politics, an area rife with conflicts between my intellectual and spiritual sides. The recent battleground has been health care, which pushes my internal conflict to its breaking point. The little intellectual on my shoulder cannot comprehend putting such a huge and vital responsibility in the hands of a government that can be described charitably as largely incompetent but more accurately as hopelessly corrupt. Meanwhile, my friend on the other shoulder keeps insisting that health care is a moral issue and that we have a responsibility as Christians (if not as humans) to help those less fortunate than ourselves. A couple days back a friend asked me point-blank: "Does it matter how much it costs?", and my intellectual answer rang hollow as I gave it.

I have been unemployed the last couple months, and that has exerted additional pressure on my thinking on this topic. It's not that I really wish I had federal health care during this transitional period (though it would be nice), or that not having a job and pinching pennies has given me a taste of how "other" people live. Quite the opposite, actually. Being unemployed has forced me to confront just how incredibly blessed my life is. I recently began volunteering with Bridge Communities, an awesome organization that works with homeless families in my suburban Chicago county. Working with Bridge has only made my own employment situation seem more detached from reality, like somehow I'm playing an unemployed character in some surreal movie. Sure, I have no job, but I'm not homeless, and my wife makes enough money to provide a comfortable middle class lifestyle even with the spectre of my student loans hanging above us. Even in some absolute worst-case scenario where Melissa lost her job, we have a wide network of family and friends that could support us (for years, if necessary) while we worked at getting back on our feet. Any string of circumstances that could lead me to need the help of a group like Bridge Communities is so far-fetched so as to be statistically impossible, as the mathematicians like to say. Basically, the impact of my unemployment is that I can't buy shiny new his-and-her's MacBooks, and I don't get to eat out as much as I want, and I can't take Melissa to Europe. And so every feeling of self-pity is chased by a wave of guilt at just how insulated I am from anything even resembling hardship.

It is in that mindset that I confront our current debate about health care in America. While I can't say I have worked out how many hundreds of billions of dollars I think our government should spend on health care, or even how many tens of dollars I should send to little girls like Rebeca in AIDS-ravaged Tanzania, I do have a question to ask myself. Does it matter how much it costs?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the guest post, Matt! It was great to read your thoughts...how does one put a $ on human life?