The painful debate over our health care system that has consumed us this past spring and summer is a far cry from the wisdom of religious traditions that we identify with so strongly in the U.S.
How can this be? Those of us who are currently covered by health care plans that inspire our confidence are perhaps too aware of the pitfalls facing millions of our fellow Americans. We are gripped by fear of losing what we have and falling into the morass of bad coverage or no coverage.
It is fear that makes us susceptible to the divisive and destructive messages of advocates on all sides of the debate. The time has come for us to lay aside our fears in order that we might see more clearly how to provide health care security to the 46+ million people without it today.The world’s religions all speak simply but eloquently about how we should approach the world. For Christians, the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:12 read,
"In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."
But Jesus was not alone in this admonition.
Confucius, in Analects 15.23 says, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”
In the Mahabharata 5:1517, Hindu’s read “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.”
In the Udana-Varga 5:18, Buddha says, “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
The Prophet Muhammad, in the Hadith, states, “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.”
And the great Rabbi Hillel, writing in the Talmud says, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah: all the rest is commentary.”
These words of wisdom should be a source of courage for us. It is courage we need to change the course of this debate. The outcry must be – “if I want to feel confident that when sick I can receive necessary treatment, my neighbor (broadly defined) must also have the same confidence.”
May it be so.