Freedom, Patriotism — and, of course, Health Care

July 4, 2011

~by Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Faithful Reform in Health Care

“… with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
~The Declaration of Independence”

Oh how we love our red, white and blue bunting, balloons, T-shirts and lapel pins to show our patriotism.  And there’s nothing like a good fireworks display synchronized to a rousing rendition of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” to give rise to a few goose bumps!

But perhaps a more authentic expression of our love for democracy would be that of exercising our freedoms to reclaim the values upon which our nation was founded. Dare we forget our forebears’ declaration that in the sacred act of creation we are granted with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? And dare we forget that they constituted a government to promote the common good and secure the blessings of liberty?  Indeed, the ideals, the freedoms — and the responsibilities — crafted by those leaders are not to be taken lightly.

In the midst of the pomp and picnics of this holiday, just maybe one of our greatest acts of patriotism should be that of actively participating in the democratic process, and of calling upon our elected leaders to truly work for the common good.

The two cherished freedoms of religion and speech conveniently intersect in our health care work. We celebrate our religious freedoms, including the right to give voice to sacred values that guide how we live as individuals and in community: compassion, concern for those who are vulnerable, health and wholeness, and sanctity of life, to name a few.  Just as important, we celebrate our right to speak out in support of a health system that reflects those values — and to publicly oppose legislative proposals that undermine our collective vision.

Unfortunately, passing the Affordable Care Act did not end our work on health care reform.  The assaults on it continue daily as opponents work to repeal, de-fund, or dismantle it.  In addition, Medicaid and Medicare are under attack to address our federal budget and debt concerns. We know, of course, how important both programs will be in our health care future and that cutting benefits or restructuring either program will compromise the successful implementation of health care reform itself.

The assault on Medicaid and Medicare will reach fever pitch as both houses of Congress convene this week. Faith voices must help build the groundswell of opposition to using either program as the solution to solving our nation’s financial problems.

Send an email to the President, your U.S. Senators, and your U.S. Representative to show your support for Medicaid and Medicare.  Just a few quick clicks will send your message to each of these elected leaders.

Empowered by our commitments to social justice, let’s exercise our freedoms, our rights, and our responsibilities to make our democracy work for the common good.  Let’s raise our voices, inspired by the passion of our earliest leaders when they penned the final words of their declaration:  “… with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

May this be your most patriotic July 4th ever!  Take action today!

SEND your email to the President, your U.S. Senators, and your U.S. Representative.