Rich people who see a brother or sister in need, yet close their hearts against them, cannot claim that they love God. (1 John 3:17)
Before Pope Francis visited the United States in 2015, we sent a letter to him that suggested he excommunicate Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan because he was a very bad Catholic and did not encourage one Christian value.
We are very pleased that you are coming to the United States and plan to visit Washington, D.C. Your Holiness, we in America are suffering due to the selfishness of our elected officials, We have many poor, sick and hungry, and Congress does not appear to care. We are suggesting that in a symbolic gesture, you consider excommunicating Congressman Paul Ryan, as he reports himself to be a devout Roman Catholic but appears to worship at the altar of Ayn Rand and openly practices “rational selfishness” that rejects all forms of sacrifice, Congressman Ryan likely has never heard of Matthew 25 as acting for the least of us never appears to cross his mind. It appears that he thinks that feathering the beds of the moneylenders is really what Jesus meant to do. He must think those kindnesses on Jesus’ part were likely mistakes. Please consider our request. We say we are a very religious country, but in actuality, we are not. We blame the sick, the poor and the weak for all their own problems. Your Holiness, it’s actually sickening, and perhaps you could send our government a wake-up call.
If only we’d heard back from the pope telling us he was going to kick this guy out who is the architect of a bill that will result in millions more having no insurance, the rich getting massive tax cuts and over 43 million preventable deaths. A website called People’s Action puts it this way: “People shouldn’t die just so the rich can get richer.” They might have added America is the only major country that doesn’t provide national health insurance for all its citizens. And to think, Americans in Wisconsin voted for this man of their own free will.
This year we continued our crusade for health care. Edith called Sen. Todd Young’s office about ACA and had to tell the young aide, “I am the expert on poverty and sickness, not the senator, not Rep. Ryan, not Rep. McConnell. Listen to people in the field, and not in the swamp. ACA is far from perfect, but we do need expansion of Medicaid in Indiana (HIP 2.0) and we do need the ACA.” Tell it, friends.
I called as well. Our message to the senators and to you: Never give up! Call daily —let’s get on a first-name basis with senators Young and Donnelly. I am sure they will be honored to know us.
Keep in mind that Young, Donnelly, Ryan and everyone else in Congress receives what Maine Rep. Diane Russell calls “the Cadillac of Health Care,” which is paid for by us with our taxes. So health care is important for them, but in their opinion, not for you or me. This is how they “represent” us? By plunging us deeper into despair, disease and death? As talk show host Stephen Colbert says about their plan to cut health care, “You will be beautifully covered, either by insurance or six feet of dirt.”
Following her call to Young’s office, Edith went to NYC to attend the Healthcare Now annual meeting. She wrote me, “Terry. Everyone is so discouraged. New York has a state single-payer kind of thing going on; they want to hear more, but this would never happen here. If ACA tanked, 600,000 Hoosiers who are on exchanges and HIP 2.0 will have nothing. ACA is not the reason health care costs are rising, as many think. Costs were rising, and ACA was a response in order to keep private health insurance companies in the mix. You know as well as I do, as long as it’s for profit, we are screwed. And Trump has nominated the money-changers to all the cabinet positions, Friday night I’m going to protest in front of the Trump Tower. Look for me in the front of the group to get arrested. This ought to be good. Trump arrests social worker granny. Be sure to get them riled up here, Terry!!! Hope I am not shot!”
She wasn’t arrested. Nor was she shot. But she certainly did protest, and the irony is obvious — I told her, “You worry about being shot when death on the installment plan is coming right up. You are going to a board meeting for health care, when there isn’t any, or won’t be soon, and no Social Security, so no health care, no income, a certain death sentence for millions of older Americans, including us.
Which is the better way to go? Suddenly or slowly? Decisions, decisions.
Terry Doran and Edith Kenna are residents of Fort Wayne.