There are some loving souls who truly understand what their religious leaders say to us during weekend religious services. They hear and understand the golden rule: ”In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law.” They hear and understand the edict: “Always treat others with the respect they deserve. Be your brother’s and sister’s keeper.” Some, filled with the natural light of empathy and compassion, understand that we are a common family of humanity and so they strive to do in their daily lives what is right to end suffering and injustice, not just for themselves, but for all.
There have been times of crisis in our country when people have realized that the way we lived was not in accordance with the visions of our better angels. We were for many years a nation of slave owners. We refused to allow women to vote. We denied citizens civil rights because of the color of their skin. We refused to allow people to marry whom they loved because of their sexual identity. We threw people into jail when they suffered from overpowering drug addiction instead of giving them medical treatment. Shedding these selfish unjust practices and giving birth to a more enlightened society was not easy, but people with a clear loving moral vision wisely moved us forward to a more just and compassionate society and we were all better for their leadership.
Often people who had a cloudy moral vision due to fear, selfishness, ignorance or greed suddenly saw the light when they themselves or their family members experienced the injustice and intolerance that the less fortunate were feeling so acutely. When they realized their sons and daughters were gay, they suddenly saw the wisdom of gay rights. When their sons and daughters became addicted to opioids, they suddenly saw the wisdom of medical treatment for the sick, not lifetime incarceration. When they saw themselves and their family in the position of injustice, they realized that the change for a more just and compassionate society was not only good for others, but for themselves and their loved ones.
Today the visionaries are seeing that healthcare is a universal right. There may not be agreement on the best road to get there, but it is clear that having a healthy citizenry is good for the well-being of all citizens. We should be striving to provide (not deny) access to affordable healthcare to all citizens. We are now in the midst of an unprecedented national emergency. The coronavirus pandemic has reached our shores. People are beginning to realize that it is in their own self-interest to work towards ensuring all citizens remain healthy so that as few people as possible can be contaminated. By not providing healthcare to others, you risk illness or even your own death.
Perhaps the shock of this crisis will open the eyes of those who selfishly ignore the injustice of living in a society where millions do not have access to healthcare as a fundamental human right. Perhaps the shock of this pestilence will unleash the moral vision of many so that we can work together to make the golden rule a guiding principle in our American society. Maybe it is time now to truly hear the loving words that we all should be our brother’s and sister’s keepers and act accordingly. Healthcare as a universal right for all is a social good for you, your family, and all of humanity. Let’s elect leaders who will guide us all to this promised land of health and safety.
Submitted by Steve Cickay, a resident of Newtown