We are now acceptable with COVID

“We will be what we tolerate.” A friend of mine threatened to return the tentative step to “normal” the other day when the COVID-19 delta attacked thousands of Americans. I saw him doing it and said he couldn’t get it out of his head.

I am plagued by the story of a fully vaccinated 90-year-old man infected with COVID-19. After being completely isolated for over a year, he started eating again in the discourse room. 95% of his fellow residents were vaccinated. It seemed as if his long season of attention had paid off. After that, symptoms appeared, followed by a positive test. After his hospitalization, his family asked the facility for an answer. Almost all residents were vaccinated, but less than half of the staff were found to have been vaccinated. From their fears and pains, his sorrowful children are asking — How can a person working with a vulnerable elderly person be so selfish? Why are they not vaccinated — not to protect themselves, but to protect vulnerable people?

When I deal with their pain — I can’t help thinking of the wisdom of my friends: We will be what we tolerate.. If we could bring together our children, parents, and unvaccinated workers who care for our neighbors who are receiving chemotherapy, and actually ask, “Why can we be so selfish?” They may return the question to us soon. So many people don’t believe it because they have never experienced the common good, especially when it comes to health care.

Many of the working poor who assist teachers, bathe loved ones with disabilities, and stock on store shelves have or love people with chronic life-threatening medical conditions. Children of lawyers, doctors and ministers receive treatments and medications to control asthma, but children of first responders and nursing home attendants often do not. White-collar workers have health insurance that provides an insulin pump that makes diabetes a nearly manageable chronic condition, while office cleaners distribute insulin in a dangerous way. You will be forced to do that. Some of us have access to regular, high-quality medical care, such as mammograms, to detect and treat conditions before they are life-threatening. Others can only access life-saving care if they find a free clinic and risk harassment or verbal attack by protesters who call themselves pro-life. Some of us can afford to go out and eat, or live in a neighborhood with clean air and safe drinking water. Some of us get a living waiting table and can’t do that.

We are getting it for those who deserve really good care to justify these immoral disparities. And so are those who don’t need to get better to get better. For decades, we have taught that healthcare is a matter of personal concern and personal responsibility. It seems that he took a lesson. We have designed a healthcare system whose mission is to create wealth rather than heal the body. Why are we surprised when many people who are largely left out of the system are not interested in supporting it?

Today, many privileged Americans are experiencing frustration that their lives are disrupted by avoidable medical problems. To make matters worse, the pain of seeing a loved one suffers from a preventable health crisis, and we are indignant. But this has been a living reality of many of our neighbors for generations. For the first time, some of us carry the burden of this risk and pain. Our other people are still repaying the funeral expenses of the last loved one who died due to lack of health care.

In this country, people lose their homes, businesses, and loved ones every day from completely curable medical conditions. They die not because of illness, but because of lack of access to care. People have sought a better way, but the majority said no. The changes are too destructive, too expensive, and what we have is enough. We have determined that their lives, and the lives of their children, are an acceptable risk.

Now we want to bring together early childhood educators, home care assistants, nursing home attendants and first responders to shout at them.Why don’t you care about anyone other than yourself?? ‘And many of them were able to ask us the same question with the same legitimate pain. We have finally become a country we have always tolerated — a country that kills our neighbors with preventable illnesses.

Kate Murphy is a pastor of Charlotte’s Globe Presbyterian Church.