There's nothing quite as uncomfortable as being different. For me -as a white, heterosexual, Protestant, middle-class, fertile woman who dabbles in a helping profession and stays at home with my children - I almost never have to deal with that sort of discomfort. No matter where I go, there is always someone like me. I almost never stand out in a crowd.
Except in one area. I am a Democrat.
Here in the Deep South, Democrats tend to stay under the radar. We live mostly in the closet - avoiding Fox News, changing the subject, excusing ourselves to get a glass of water to avoid arguments around coffee tables. West Wing said it so eloquently, that there is almost nothing that compares to the hatred the Right feels toward the Left, or the tonnage of disrespect the Left feels toward the Right. In my part of the world, that hatred is evident in every political conversation. Frankly, I just haven't been that interested in putting my head in the lion's mouth. I prefer to avoid becoming the brunt of that sort of emotion. Other people know more than I do, I think. I'm not prepared for a debate. Eventually they will just punch themselves out and shut up. But it never happens. Thanks to Rush Limbaugh (and others like him) there is always fuel for the animosity. Legitimate discussion seems almost impossible, so I just keep my mouth shut.
Shame on me.
Last night we watched the healthcare vote. When it was over, Brian said, "Watch now as Facebook explodes with angry people." And it did. Things like, "Take your change and shove it," were everywhere. My (least) favorite was, "I have to go listen to worship music now, I can't take this anymore." Pa-lease, I say. Did we not learn from Christ's example that salvation will never come through governments and factions? Is that not the very (immediate) reason He was crucified by the Pharisees? They wanted a political revolution; He wanted a spiritual one. Is there really no practical application for present-day believers in His example?
The healthcare argument is, essentially, about spending money. How do we want to spend our money as a nation? How much of my personal money am I willing to give to the whole? That is what we're deciding. Me? I want my money to go to helping other people be - and stay - well.
Before a Christian Republican responds that we could use that money to give personally, let me ask you: did you? How has the American Church supported the sick thus far? There is reason to lament last night, that it was ever necessary for the government to do what believers have not done. That we have allowed multi-million dollar Family Life Centers to be erected in multiple locations in every single town in the South, while free clinics struggle to stay open. That there is such a high demand for second-hand assistive devices, like wheelchairs and hospital beds, because new ones are so difficult to obtain. That hospitals bearing crosses and denominational nametags are still for-profit businesses, turning away the poor, sending them to public (i.e., government-funded) hospitals instead. Shame on us for being so intent on making ourselves comfortable in our pews that we, as a Church, have allowed healthcare to become what it is.
But it is what it is. And while this is not universal healthcare - no it's not, it's really not - I personally am glad to see the government step in. There was a time when I was without healthcare and needed a medical procedure (ironically, a D&C, which is at the heart of all of the anger). The pregnancy was not viable, but it was a 3500$ procedure. We both worked in a church, and had no health insurance. My church family knew of my predicament and did not offer to help. The Baptist hospital that would have performed the procedure offered no benevolence. There was no government subsidy that recognized that some of the most innovative and inspiring citizens of our country - those who don't spend their lives working for companies with good benefits - may have trouble affording health insurance. I had no choice but to decline a needed medical procedure, and spent the worst month of my life waiting it out instead.
I'm not in that position anymore. But as a believer, I am happy to spend a little of my money helping others avoid it. I'm glad to know that the parents of children with disabilities will no longer be paralyzed by the possibility of running out of a lifetime cap on their child's insurance, or unable to take a new job because an insurance company will not cover their child's pre-existing (life-long) condition. I'm glad to know that a middle-aged widow who has paid premiums her entire adult life will no longer have to worry about her insurance dropping her coverage when she receives a cancer diagnosis. Good things will come from last night's vote.
Says one little blue dot in a very red state.