Thursday, July 26, 2012

A shot in the dark - Am I my brother's keeper?

Roger Ebert wrote a column on gun control and received 650 comments.

He read them all.

Then he responded, with one of his best columns ever. Some of the lines are so well said I've excerpted them below. I've written about this many times, but, of course, not with his eloquence.

A shot in the dark - Roger Ebert's Journal

Catie and Caleb Medley went to the doomed midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." It was a movie they'd been looking forward to for a year, her father said. Gunfire rang out. The bullets missed Catie, who was pregnant. Caleb was shot in the eye. On Tuesday, their son Hugo was born. Caleb is listed in critical condition, and the cost of emergency treatment for his head wound has already reached $2 million. The Medleys were uninsured.

... Many of the comments were about health care, and one of the arguments frequently heard was: "I don't want the federal government taxing me to pay for the medical costs of people who don't care enough to provide for their own costs."...

... In our imagination it's always other people who get sick. I have a reader who tells me he's never been sick a day in his life. I tell him that's interesting from an autobiographical point of view, but otherwise not relevant. I can assure him that unless he's killed in an accident, sooner or later he will most surely get sick, and sooner or later he will most surely die.

Are we our brothers' keepers? Many people who resort to scripture are under the impression that we are not. They forget that it was Cain who said he was not his brother's keeper, after murdering Abel. In a similar sense, if our fellow citizens die because they have no access to competent medical care, they argue that we are not their keepers...

... I quote from the Bible for a particular reason. Many of the opponents of Universal Health Care identify themselves as Christians, yet when you get to the bottom of their arguments, you'll find them based not on Christianity but on Ayn Rand capitalism...

Ebert is talking about prosperity theology (wikipedia, see also Prosperity Theology | Christian Bible Studies [1]), a belief that wealth is a sign of god's approval, and poverty of god's disapproval. Since sin earns god's disapproval, the poor are sinners.

Although American Christians have brought prosperity theology to new heights, it's not unique to Christianity or to Mormonism. Hinduism's justification of caste maps well to the idea that poverty goes with sin, and wealth with grace.

In 2012 the fundamental difference between the right and the liberal is how we answer the question: "Am I my brother's keeper". Ironically, avowed Christians often give the answer of Cain and Ayn, while secular humanists often give the answer of Abel.

Cain and Abel. Romney and Obama. Some things never change ...

[1] Probably the only time I've ever linked to Christian Bible site.

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