For the People: A Mercy Killing.

In several conversations about health care legislation over the course of the past year, I argued for taking whatever we could get.  I reasoned that a defeat now would likely be a defeat forever, as national health care would face its second consecutive failure under its second consecutive Democratic president, and would strengthen the argument that the people of the U.S. would never accept national socialized medical care.  I have theorized that the smallest victory now would establish a base camp of sorts that future legislators could work to move toward more all-encompassing health care coverage.

Today, I am of a different mind.  The health “insurance reform” that the Senate has crapped out is a vile, dishonest rape of the notion that Americans will see any sort of relief from the corporate, for-profit machinery of the insurance industry.  The bill must die.

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No Dogs were Hurt in the Writing of this Column.

On Sunday in Atlanta, NFL quarterback Michael Vick took the field against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.  Once the highest paid player in the sport and the face of a franchise, Vick is now a back-up limited to a few plays a game.  Many of his former fans booed him as he jogged onto the artificial turf of the Georgia Dome for the first time since serving a two-year prison sentence for running a dog-fighting operation while the Falcons’ franchise player.  By the second half, they were cheering him as he launched a fifty-yard scoring bomb.  They decided they were ready to forgive.  Vick basked in the applause of the crowd.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods licked his wounds in private, refusing still to speak publicly about his numerous infidelities.  And not really asking for our forgiveness.

At least not to our satisfaction.

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Will Religion Ever Lead to Peace?

During his recent Nobel acceptance speech, President Obama pointed out that at the crux of our catastrophic failure at achieving peace lies the divisive, fear-inciting force of religion, saying:

“People fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities — their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines. Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint — no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith — for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

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Empathy Vital Not Only to Helping Others, but Also to Helping Ourselves.

How many times has somebody genuinely wanted to help you with a situation, but because they weren’t members of the same social class you dismissed them by saying something along the lines of, “How can you truly care? You don’t understand what it’s like to be (insert identity here)?” Or maybe you said, “You’ve never had to (insert struggle here).” I too am guilty of misinterpreting a person’s willingness to help as a showcase of condescendence in my past.  And, I too, was wrong.

Yes it’s true that unless you have experienced the exact same events, exact same reactions, and exact same outcomes, you can’t truly understand exactly how somebody feels. However, one of human beings’ greatest accomplishments is the ability to empathize. It doesn’t take the exact same experiences to empathize with someone. Not everybody has genial intentions all the time, but simply having a different background does not necessarily make a person insensitive to others’ concerns.

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