This summer, I've mostly watched the discussions of health care reform from a distance. However, during the United Church of Christ's General Synod, I was invited to work on their news team, and I had the opportunity to meet U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich) when he came to General Synod to talk about health care reform and to advocate for a single-payer option.
While there seemed to be agreement among Synod-goers that health care needed to be reformed, and some healthy differences of opinion about what the best solution would be and what could realistically be done, one thing that I wasn't hearing during the conversation was a call for personal responsibility. Perhaps that was a given with many of those present, but in my own case, it was an 'aha' moment.
As a middle-aged person I see a lot of people my age making changes for the better. In some cases, friends saw the big "40" or "50" in the near future, and began an exercise regimen, or even training for a marathon. In other cases, it was an injury or illness: a knee gives out, a friend develops cancer. Simply stepping on the scale at the doctor's office can be an eye-opener also (unless we can convince ourselves that a "surge" of gravity occurred at the exact moment we stepped on the scale).
For me, though, the eye opener was the health care reform debate. I want better and more widely available health care for everyone. But I also don't like the idea of asking anyone to pay anything on my behalf while I'm on a first name basis with fast food drive-thru employees (and I've had to face the fact that while Caribou Coffee sounds cooler than McDonalds, it's still fast food).
Intersection member Eric Hutton mentioned to me that he had heard Dave Ramsey (the Financial Peace guru) talking about the need for personal responsibility, but other than that, nothing. And while there are justice issues intertwined with a personal responsibility approach (people of color and people in impoverished areas are more affected by air and water pollution, and have less income to spend on fresh produce, for example) we still need to have the discussion about what kind of changes, even small ones, we can make in our own lives.
That doesn't mean we need to be perfect in our own habits before we can ask the government, health care providers, and insurance companies to make any changes. We can do both at the same time.
Anyone else have thoughts on this?