I just really wanted an excuse to post this video.
I had a few comments and private emails in the last post about the uninsured which I find really perplexing. They essentially say, "I'm charitable, I give to my church, I'm all in favor of voluntary charity. But when the government makes it compulsory and steals my money to give it away, that's not charity, that's fascism."
I'm paraphrasing, I admit. But not by much.
But it's one of those things that really make me scratch my head. These people have a fundamentally different understanding of the concept of charity than I do. Full disclosure: I was raised catholic and
enjoyed endured 12 years of catholic education. While I have wound up not particularly religious (to say the least), it's fair to say that the core values of catholicism really have infected me, in a good way, at a very basic level. One of those values, one of the most important ones, is charity. Christ talked about it a lot. But what does "charity" mean? Or, maybe I should say, what does that mean to me, and how do I put it into action?
The definition of charity is:
1: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanityLove of humanity -- that's where I draw my moral compass from. Not some niggling distinction over whether a particular cause rises to my discretionary level of "this is important and I personally want to support it," or whether the plight of a particular person inspires me to contribute. Those are important aspects of charity, to be sure, and certainly maybe ones I could be better about. Nor do I view charity as a mere personal virtue, which allows me to take pride in my personal munificence. The concept of charity I absorbed was the first one: the universal goodwill and love for fellow mankind -- the rich, the poor, the drunk, the irresponsible, and the moral imperative to care for them. All of them.
2 a : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need
b : an institution engaged in relief of the poor
c : public provision for the relief of the needy
3 a : a gift for public benevolent purposes
b : an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift
4: lenient judgment of others
That understanding of charity encompasses it all. Personal charity, giving of yourself to support those in need. Institutional charity, where my (catholic, incidentally) hospital provides $30 million in indigent care annually. And yes, public charity, where society, as expressed in public policy, creates institutions and systems to take care of those in need.
That's why I favor universal insurance or whatever method of assuring that nobody would go without access to medical care. It's charity writ large. Policy goals are in some degree moral goals expressed and organized on a society-wide basis.
I don't want people to die unnecessarily.
I don't want people to suffer if it is preventable.
I don't want people's financial lives wiped out by illness.
This is why advocate for our country to create systems, be it individual mandates or medicaid or some other system, all too imperfect, to make sure that those who are needy can be cared for -- even if their need was created in part by their own irresponsibility. I pity them, and I hurt for them. We can do better for them -- indeed for all of us, since there but for the grace of god go we and those we care for.
So, anonymous commenters, I do not understand you. Your concept of charity is self-serving, narrow and harsh and not one I recognize. You give with one hand but turn a blind eye to those you deem undeserving. You place ideological purity in importance over real human suffering. You view charity as a personal virtue rather than as a force for good. Fair enough, I'm glad that you are so assured in your own moral rectitude. My vision is ... rather different.
And while I may understand your words, I don't think I'll ever really understand how you came to view charity that way.