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From: Bruce Schuman
Type: Forum
Group: Alliance Plenary
Subject: American Healthcare Re-Alignment - The Will of God
Date: January 4, 2014

This is a very tough question. Thanks for the comment, Nick.

In the USA -- we pretty-much have to say that our health care system has been impossibly broken. We have to do something about it. What I want to suggest -- is that what we are looking for is a fine-grained balance -- and what is threatening us -- is a natural psychological tendency towards oversimplification -- possibly with moralistic or condemning/accusing overtones. The issues are complex and multi-faceted, with no single "linear" kind of causality driving the problem. There are many factors in play, and we really need to consider them all, in some balanced/correct proportion. There's no simplistic moral high ground, and we're not going to all go rushing off in one direction to fix it. We've got to be holistic and inclusive.

As a psychologist, you're probably aware of Jon Haidt's 2013 book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided on Religion and Politics".

This "politics of division" is a huge thing in the USA. Our congressional system is essentially paralyzed because of it. This issue is rising as one of the dominant forces in our politics. It's discussed in many venues, and many alternatives are being proposed.

Jon Haidt's basic idea is that people (he means just about everybody) have a natural tendency towards somewhat (or maybe very) self-righteous moralizing -- which tends to inspire smug and simplistic accusatory judgments. And maybe this behavior is not simply self-indulgent, as it might seem -- but is caused primarily by ignorance or lack of awareness -- by insularity and unfamiliarity. The fences (boundaries) have not come down -- people in different sectors don't understand each other very well, and -- as per the famous metaphor of the blind men and the elephant -- are looking at very different aspects of the whole. From this dim and poorly informed perspective, prejudice, demonization and anger easily arise.

People in interfaith talk about this kind of thing all the time -- using phrases like "the demonization of the other" -- but this interpretation has to be balanced against the correctness. Maybe "those guys" ARE all guilty of something -- as you seem to be suggesting is happening in Canada.

But when I have talked to Lynne -- her comment is -- universal healthcare is working all over the world -- and working in Massachusetts -- and the biggest problem we face is not the "socialization" aspects you mention -- but the excessive cost of health care -- which tends to be rooted in high wages for doctors. She tells me she has spoken on the phone with many doctors, who complain that their wages are being substantially affected -- "I have to take a 40% cut in my income" -- or maybe a 70% cut for some services. Doctors tend to have a monopolistic strangle-hold on the market, and an ingrained culture that also inspires a sense of entitlement and righteousness. When I was a kid, my aunt gave me a copy of Albert Schweitzer's book on "Reverence for Life". Schweitzer and I could never understand how the power of life and death held by a medical professional could be put in service to the profit motive.

There are many forces we have to balance here. You might want to say -- as some Americans do -- that independence and freedom should be the dominant values in society. That sounds good on paper, and it is important. But that freedom has to be weighed against responsibility -- and I am personally somewhat amazed to hear radical libertarians in the USA refer to a city government policy of parking meters as "tyranny". The passion for freedom, as it gets out of balance, becomes destructive, and tends towards anarchy -- which some libertarians advocate. It might be true that socialized medicine can lead to irresponsible and expensive health problems, but unrestrained free market economies can lead to absolute piracy.

The rule of law in a collective context is a "delicate balance". We can't swing too far in any one direction.

Here in the USA, we've been pounding on this question for quite a few years now -- and I personally have tended to give up any hope that some realistic solution will be found outside an "integral" and "holistic" and deeply spirit-inspired approach.

From a metaphysical point of view -- as we have been saying constantly in this forum -- reality is One.

But reality divides into Duality -- and duality is infinitely complex -- and composed of a unity of opposites -- as is outlined in that review of the flag of India and Ashoka Chakra that I posted a few days ago.

I know I am a radical outside-the-box spiritual revolutionary -- but I am persuaded we need a new box -- that one way or the other, connects the collective decision process of governance to a fine-grained adjudication and discernment process that seeks to perfect this absolutely requisite balance we need so badly.

For the atheists and secular humanists -- let's strip our metaphysics and ethics of metaphor and base our activist philosophy on purely "public square" values. We can do this -- and the Interspiritual movement is leading the way on how. For those of us that "believe" -- let's get a realistic model in place that can support the huge diversity of perspectives flowing into these conversations -- so that a political point of view such as you suggest, Nick, can be balanced against the Pope's concern with "fraternity" and the human family.

For me -- the "Will of God" means exquisite and absolutely informed balance -- probably as influenced in a collective way by every spiritual and religious and ethical movement in the world. Yes, this is "extremely high bandwidth" -- but this is bandwidth we need.

Let's build bridges to the Center -- from every contending point of view, across every dimension of "opposites" -- and seek to "perfect our union", as the Preamble to the USA Constitution suggests we should. That, for me -- is the "single garment of destiny" MLK was writing about from the Birmingham jail.

Regarding the "wheel of the law" -- maybe we need to re-write our political/civil law in the form of a wheel...

--- On Fri, Jan 3, 2014, Nick Arrizza wrote ---

Although I am not an American (residing in Canada) I can share with you how the Canadian healthcare system has coaxed away the individual's sense of personal responsibility for their health in the guise of a universally funded system that all contribute to. Sadly this has created a situation here that rewards a dis-empowered victim mentality that financially drags the entire system (and eventually the country) into an irretrievably negative spiral.

I actually left the medical system for this every reason over 13 years ago when I realized that it actually energetically conspired against individuals and physicians who truly aspired to a sense of personal empowerment. I left in search of a paradigm where individuals chose to take full responsibility for all aspects of their lives. I have found such empowered and courageous individuals across the globe who are beginning to create a new, enlightened and empowered consciousness that I feel will eventually tip the balance and inspire those "lost" in the seduction of a universal healthcare system to join and bring the planetary consciousness to a higher life oriented vibration.

--- On Fri, Jan 3, 2014, Bruce Schuman wrote ---

Thanks Lynne -- thanks Gerald -- thanks anyone else who has a sense for how big and challenging and deep this healthcare transition really is --

I wanted to comment on this issue from a broader perspective -- from the point of view of cultural shift in general , and the sense of major transition that is happening across the planet -- and now, in this critical specific way, in the economic and spiritual heart of the USA.

This health-care thing is a big deal for Americans. We are very used to high independence and personal freedom, and we tend to see any sort of "socialism" as positively toxic and anti-American. No American politician dares to use the word in a positive way.

But we're pushing ahead into this new way -- because we have to. There's no going back now; we're locked in, this is going to happen -- and the way I see it, it's a major step along the path of our national identity crisis as we try to get in step with the real world. Some cherished national notions might be heading for the trash-bin of history.

And this is not only a political and economic question. As Lynne points out -- it's a profoundly spiritual question. She's working as a health insurance agent, and every day clients come to her with (sometimes angry) questions about why they have to pay the health care costs of people who smoke or otherwise set careless standards for themselves. The answer, it seems, is found in the words of Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail -- "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

I'd say Nick was pointing to this too, in his message on resonance this morning.

In ways that seem to be coming clearer all the time -- we human beings are deeply interwoven through one another. We are inescapably bound together.

Yet at the same time, our culture is hugely fragmented, divided in hundreds or thousands of ways. Finding a broad basis for collective agreement is a high-pressure challenge of the most demanding sort.

My guess is -- critical/breakthrough leadership on this point is going to emerge -- and perhaps only can emerge -- from the voice of Spirit -- maybe something like the "collective voice of interspirituality" -- as forces in cultural evolution and global psychology compels a creative process that breaks through the resistance to collaboration inherent in limited human individuality.


In his message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2014, Pope Francis writes


In this, my first Message for the World Day of Peace, I wish to offer to everyone, individuals and peoples, my best wishes for a life filled with joy and hope. In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.

Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace. We should remember that fraternity is generally first learned in the family, thanks above all to the responsible and complementary roles of each of its members, particularly the father and the mother. The family is the wellspring of all fraternity, and as such it is the foundation and the first pathway to peace, since, by its vocation, it is meant to spread its love to the world around it.

The ever-increasing number of interconnections and communications in today’s world makes us powerfully aware of the unity and common destiny of the nations. In the dynamics of history, and in the diversity of ethnic groups, societies and cultures, we see the seeds of a vocation to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another. But this vocation is still frequently denied and ignored in a world marked by a “globalization of indifference” which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves.


From my point of view, this is a powerful and inspired call for wholeness in national and international community -- and for the "fraternity" that might not only help the better-off and the healthy to be more compassionate and concerned about the sicker or weaker -- but it might also help invoke a spirit of self-transformation and responsibility in those people who may have been careless with their own lives and need help because of it.

It's a two-sided question -- or an infinite-sided question. It necessitates fine-grained perfect balance among many contending over-simplifications.

"Am I my brother's keeper? Are you my brother? Are we truly bound together?"

As I see it -- this is a question for the ethical and moral forces of the world to collectively adjudicate in some very graceful and inspired way.

In the ideal and perfect sense -- every one of these high-tension political questions should be examined in the brilliant light of the Universal Holy Spirit -- perhaps in such a fine-grained way that absolutely every decision could be made on a strictly local case-by-case basis -- because, somehow, by extreme grace and inspired skill -- we would "know" that this action is being guided by God and the Absolute and the Wholeness of Reality.

And yes, of course, even thinking such things is hugely revolutionary. Maybe it's impossible or utterly unrealistic. But speaking just for myself -- I do feel that convening power of Spirit around and "amongst" me, in my own little semi-private inescapable web of mutuality...


A few days ago, I got a beautiful email from sacred activist Andrew Harvey, who is offering a new teleseminar on the power of prayer.

I feel deeply bonded to his vision. Somehow, my instinct is -- this "power of prayer" is the key energy that can release the tremendous potentials of our age, and can help us move forward through this huge cultural transition.

He's teaching this vision and message. I want to move into this energy with others -- in that "white hot mutuality" somebody mentioned years ago on United Communities of Spirit.

Burn closer to God, burn closer to one another. That seems to be the key...

--- On Thu, Jan 2, 2014, Lynne Monds wrote ---

Thank you for your kind words, Gerald.

Regarding your statement --

"We need to do the best we can to take care of each other because we are all in this journey together." -- would, you extend the "care of each other" to mean that we take responsibility for maintaining our health so that others in our community do not have to bear the consequences of our lifestyle choices?

For instance, do you believe in mandating the use of motorcycle and bicycle helmets, in order to maintain at a low level the institutional care that must be provided for brain-injured cyclists?

How much responsibility to we each bear to give up those adventurous escapades that put us at risk for serious injury -- now that the community will be paying for more extensive healthcare than it did previous to January 1?

You say: "internal power, energy, is optimized in any biosystem when everyone is as healthy as possible. In any form of ecological system, it is always better if all subsystems are healthy and thriving,..."

What is our accountability as individual members of our communities to keep these subsystems healthy and to thereby hold down our healthcare costs?

As a Communitarian, I tend to regard the responsibilities of each community member to support the community in the same vein as I regard the responsibilities of the community to support each member.

Our increasingly libertarian society wants to pushback against any attempts by our communities to rein in extreme behavior (including extreme eating and drinking). However, now that the new healthcare system is in place, and we will all be paying for one another's medical procedures through our insurance premiums and taxes, I feel the conversation about maintaining a healthy lifestyle will begin opening up with some vigor here in America.

Thank you again for taking part in this conversation, Gerald.

--- On Thu, Jan 2, 2014, Gerald Dillenbeck wrote ---

Lynne, you are a peach. I love your compassion and your intellect and your gentleness; rarely combined in one person in such an apparently balanced way.

In recent research, I went way back to our earliest probable understanding of health. Basically, internal power. Medicine was the power of health, something that usually came from within. But, when things went wrong, then there were these medicine-wisdom people. The shamans.

Anyway, internal power, energy, is optimized in any biosystem when everyone is as healthy as possible. In any form of ecological system, it is always better if all subsystems are healthy and thriving, and it is always a warning sign when one portion of the system is compromised.

Species health is cooperatively optimized. If individuals have to compete for access to nutrients and maintenance resources, then this puts the entire species at unnecessary risk.

We need to do the best we can to take care of each other because we are all in this journey together. The idea that access to health services should be contingent on the individual's capacity to pay is morally anomalous, and dissonant with our entire permacultured history, not only as a species, but as a planet.

Gerald Dillenbeck, M. Div, MPA

--- On Wed, Jan 1, 2014, Lynne Monds wrote ---

On January 1, 2014 the United States entered into a tectonic cultural shift called healthcare reform.

In so doing, we took a massive step toward an alignment with the healthcare systems of every other industrial country in the world.

As a health insurance agent for the past seven years, I have been working to help my clients transition into the new system as seamlessly as possible, but many of them are not liking the change, as can be expected with a transformation so vast.

This cultural, economic, social and political transformation will eventually affect every American in ways both direct and indirect – and the questions surrounding healthcare reform touch upon many spiritual issues as well.

The Pope, for instance, speaks about caring for the poor. Does this involve giving the poor free healthcare?

One might say yes without question. Then, what about a poor person who smokes? To what extent does the Universe expect us to help carry the karmic burden of people who are in the process of dealing with the consequences of their lifestyle choices?

These are nuanced issues, and I would very much like to hear from the people who are here from countries that are already delivering universal healthcare to their citizens. What are some of the challenges that we American newbies can expect to face with our novel healthcare system?

And of course, I would like to hear as well about the experiences of my fellow Yanks, as we go bravely now into this new day.






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