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So, The Health Care Thing

I promised those who know me (the lucky and unlucky few) that I would make no statement on the Health Care Issue until the Supreme Court had made its statement, both its assenting and dissenting statements. My idea in doing this was both practical and penetiential. Too often I speak too quickly, taking on the tone of authority prior to the authority getting its fair chance (for if authority ever carried with it a particular privilege, it is it’s right to speak before all others, so that when the others criticise, they can at least know what statement it is they are criticising). It has been over four days since the highest court in the land has made that comment, with five justices saying one thing and four justices saying something completely different. Anyone who knows me knows that I agree with the four that disagreed with the five whose opinion now carries the force of law. But because we live in a country where the fine seperation between force of conscience and force of law is so gladly understood as running parallel to the seperation between Church and state, it is up to us, as citizens, to determine which side to take in the debate (and not up to the Court).

In that spirit, there is only one thing that our President has said that has made me want to stand up in objection. He has said many things that I object to (and many things that I agree with), but this statement alone unleashed the ticklish desire to denounce him. He said that now that the highest court in the land had spoken, that all arguments should cease and that the inevitability of progress should be embraced. The history of this country has taught me otherwise. Should we have let Plessey v. Furguson have the last say simply because it was said by the Supreme Court? If anything, it is when the ‘high court’ falters that the people, a higher court still, are called upon to argue at the top of their lungs. The beautiful thing about our Republic is that strange and stirring fact that if 5 people sitting on the high bench are wrong, than it is up to the 300 million of us who were not on their bench to refuse to take it sitting down.

Many other writers have expressed more clearly, more concisely and more conscientously the objections to the Health Care Bill. Most of these objections are selfish and unessential to the arguement. But the arguement should still happen. Which brings me to the point of this essay (if calling it a ‘point’ is truly appropriate). The reason that the now-debated 1st Amendment exists is because the Founding Fathers truly believed that there were areas of the citizen’s life over which the government should have no control. Those areas included (but are not limited to) religion, speech and assembly. The current ruling seems to infer that my bodily health is excluded from such protection, that there is no amendment in our Constitution that can prevent the law from investigating the health status of my lungs. Some extremists say that this could lead the government to tax our breathing. The fact that supporters of the bill can only rejoin, “No, but we can tax the person who monitors your breathing” is far from comforting. But whatever they say, they still cannot tax the sounds that come out of my lungs, and that is a comfort.

What is less comforting is the odd truth that the President and his supporters agree with free speech and free love, but have little concern with free health and free religion. They would rather cheap health care and ambivalent religion. They wish to tax both the biological body and bodies of faith, and that which is taxable is neither legally nor finacially free. As a US Citizen, your body and soul now come with a price tag in the eyes of the government, and there is nothing comforting about that fact.

Please do me a favor before I wrap up this short reflection (editorial, manifesto, soliloquy?). Do NOT assume that I side with the GOP or Tea Party on this thing. The only elephant in the room is my large and perhaps naive hope that freedom of speech still stands in this country. When I spoke of us all speaking at the ‘top of our lungs,’ it is because I believe that that ‘top’ is of a higher authority than the top court. We might lose our voices, and the government might tax our laryngitis, but they have yet to pass a bill that can tax our words. And as philosophy affirms that the pen is mighiter than the sword, theology affirms that the Word is mightier than the Court.

About Daniel Lacourrege

Daniel Lacourrege is a 20-something year old theologian living in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is the best place in the world to be a 20-something. It is the third best place in the world to be a Catholic (Rome & Jerusalem claiming first & second).
His life has become one adventure right after another. Most of them start in a classroom or library, but very few of them finish there. He likes most things, but usually must be in the mood for them. The only thing he is never in the mood for is traffic.
If you feel so moved, you may email him at lacourrege4@archbishopshaw.us.

Comments

  1. great posting! Thanks for that!

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