Let’s Preserve Freedom, Not Give It Up

My wife and I had a quick trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this last weekend for a medical convention and while there had several hours of time on Saturday to do some sight-seeing.  We walked so many blocks from the hotel where we stayed that we were wore out by nightfall, but saw many good people and places.  Visiting Independence Hall and standing in the same room where the signers of Declaration of Independence committed their lives toward the pursuit of freedom that has now influenced the whole world is nothing short of inspirational. Studying the history of our U.S. Constitution in the Constitution Center across from Independence Hall provides a sense of just how great our American history really is.  In between those two places is the home of the Liberty Bell inscribed with a scripture from Leviticus 25:10, “…Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”  As I walked down a sidewalk directly in front of Independence Hall, there were brilliant trees changing their colorful displays while a lone bird hidden in the leaves chirped out some music that sounded like a song of freedom.  Just a few blocks away is a Quaker church building into which visitors are welcome and where the unpolished, plain, wood floor from the early 1800’s is still trod upon by those present day adherents to a way of life which greatly influenced many movements toward freedom in our country including ending slavery and recognition of the rights of women.  While these several blocks stand to testify to the power of the message of freedom, only several blocks away there were those sitting alongside the streets who certainly appeared to not be very free, but bound by the chains of addiction.  Freedom isn’t free, can’t be taken for granted, and must be protected by living responsibly.

In these final weeks before our upcoming elections, I think everyone needs to consider what freedom really means.  Many people think that they will have freedom by giving up their freedoms for what they perceive as greater protection and security of greater government control of our lives.  There are many who want the government to handle everything in their lives.  They are willing to give up their guns and depend upon the government to fully protect them while neglecting the fact that only criminals will have guns then.  They want to give up trying to provide for their health and want to turn over their entire healthcare to the ultimate control of the government also while accepting a lower level of possible care available to them.  They want to allow greater control of the federal government over our schools and can’t see that it doesn’t help; our graduates are less competitive now than in many decades.  If one likes the way our schools are going, then allow the government to control more of our healthcare and we will get a similar system that doesn’t work.  Centralized government with tremendous power is what our forefathers fled to avoid and sought independence to leave.  The well-intentioned desire by many to make government the god of our lives is doomed for failure.

“The greatest temptation to evil that humanity ever suffers is the temptation to make a “Jerusalem” happen by human means.  Human means are absolutely indispensable in the world as it is.  This is God’s intention.  We are supposed to act, and our actions are to count.  But there is a limit on what human arrangements can accomplish.  They alone cannot change the heart and spirit of the human being.  Because of this, the instrumentalities invoked to make “Jerusalem” happen always wind up eliminating truth, or mercy, or both.  World history as well as small-scale decision making demonstrates this.  It is seen in the ravages of dictatorial power, on the one hand, and, on the other, in the death by minutiae that a bureaucracy tends to impose.  It is well known how hard it is to provide a benign order with human means.  For the problem, once again, is in the human heart.  Until it fully engages with the rule of God, the good that we feel must be cannot come.  It will at a certain point be defeated by the very means implemented to produce it” (The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard, 1997, Harper Collins).

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Making a Good Stew

The future of healthcare is one of the main driving factors behind the decisions being made by the electorate in this year’s presidential election.   Over the last several years, it has become more and more unaffordable for people to have health insurance and for those who are the most ill to even qualify for it.  To not have health insurance is to take a chance with bankruptcy.  People are hurting and are afraid of being hurt.  The situation is ripe for someone to come up with a solution.  During times like this, we must be careful to whom we listen given the swarming mass of talking heads in the media ready and willing to tell us all what we should think and do.  This stew that our government is cooking for us to eat is having some time to simmer.  We are starting to see what’s in the recipe, but haven’t even begun to taste the end product called the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, as it’s more commonly known.

Unless you are in the small minority of people who have a complete garden and farm with everything necessary to sustain yourself, you must go to the grocery store and buy what items you need to make your own stew.  Most people will put as much into their stew that they have themselves and supplement the rest of the items from elsewhere.  Making stew is a personal task and it can be tailored to what your tastes and even what your needs are at the time.   The results of making some good stew are wonderful and fulfilling.  There are some folks who buy a can of stew already made and take their chances as to what’s really in it; if that is what they want, that is fine, but I’ll take some homemade stew any day over that processed and packaged stuff.  For those of you who like making your stew, how would you like it if someone came to your home that you didn’t invite and there they were knocking on your door demanding to be let inside because they stated they want to help you?  This person stands over your shoulder and watches how you cut every piece of meat or vegetable and is quick to point out that you need to cut it a different way because they can’t count how many pieces you are putting in that pot with cutting such varied sizes and shapes.  They want you to stop what you are doing so they can test your knife and see if it’s clean enough and sharp enough.  Let’s not forget your hands, the sink, the kitchen counter, your refrigerator and freezer, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and before long it has evolved into a complete dissection of everything you own and are around because they say any of these things will affect the stew.  Before long, you don’t have time to make stew anymore and no one even remembers how it all started.  You just wanted a good bowl of homemade stew.  If someone came to your home and put you through that kind of rigmarole, it would not be long before you would politely show them the door.

The freedom to live one’s life apart from a government with too much power was one of the reasons why this country was founded.  “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).  America is at another crossroads in deciding if there will continue to be real freedom or a pale shade of it.  Our healthcare choices need to have individual freedom built into what is finally implemented for our healthcare.  There should freedom of the patient and the physician to have a relationship that is truly free of the constant over-the-shoulder, second guessing, eternally critical, backseat driving, arm chair doctoring that has become a daily distraction for doctors who really just want to  be able to take care of their patients the best that they can.