Tag Archives: health care

The Human Face of Poverty


I have stated often in my posts that to understand poverty, we must see the human face of it.  Here it is:   “Maria is a 53 year old woman who works two part-time jobs and is a key caregiver for her extended family.   She has diabetes, hypertension and recurrent bleeding from her uterus.   Most months she cannot afford her medicines.   She is beginning to have eye problems and nerve problems because of her diabetes.   She is at increasing risk of suffering a stroke because of her high blood pressure   She often needs to go to the emergency room with severe bleeding from her uterus; she is stabilized and discharged  and told she needs to have a hysterectomy.   She can’t afford this with no medical or health insurance.”

This is a composite picture written by Dr. Gerard S. Brungardt, a physician who I met when he was medical director of the hospice for which I was a chaplain.   I know the doctor as a caring and compassionate person who has worked as a volunteer physician at the Guadelupe Clinic, a local free medical clinic, for over 25 years and put together what he has experienced in this composite face of poverty and health care in an article in the Wichita Eagle .

Dr. Brungardt notes that “with access to KanCare, Maria would be able to have a regular doctor she could call with questions and concerns, one who would care for her diabetes and hypertension.   She would be able to get her medicines on a regular basis and get the surgery she needs.”    But what he says next in his article in the Wichita Eagle is what is important:   “Most important” he says, “she would feel like a member of the community—-someone who counts, someone her community recognizes as important enough to provide with the basis need of health insurance. ”   

Maria’s example highlights the key reasons why we should expand Medicaid in Kansas that has been blocked by the governor and the legislature, thus denying  basic healthcare to thousands of Kansans just like Maria.   Dr. Brungardt emphasizes that the most important reason to extend that care goes beyond just health care.   It confirms for people their dignity.    Brungard refers to Pope Francis, “who  has untiringly reminded us of the dignity we all carry within ourselves in communion with those around us.   WHEN WE ISOLATE SOMEONE FROM OUR COMMUNITY THAT PERSON EXPERIENCES A POVERTY MORE PROFOUND THAN MATERIAL POSSESSIONS.   They experience the poverty of being denied their innate human dignity, of not being recognized as someone who counts, of not being treated precisely as a someone.”

We have relegated almost a quarter of the population of Kansas t0 a position of inferior status as human beings.   How can those who did this, our governor and our legislators, look at themselves in the mirror every morning, knowing what their actions are causing?   How can we, as Christians and churches, look at ourselves in the mirror every morning that we do not demand that this change?

Angry America

We are an angry nation Everywhere we turn we see and hear hostility, hatred, fear and anger expressed from the front page news, to local news, to politics, and even the sports pages.   We are angry about a lot of things:  taxes, health care , immigration, abortion, birth control, voter registration, national debt, corporate greed, shrinking of the middle class, cost of living.    I am of the opinion that we need to seriously consider a revision of or salute to our flag.  We should replace the current version of  “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  The final words should perhaps read“an angry nation, denying God’s love to those who don’t agree with us, severely divided, with liberty to do what we want regardless of the common good, and retribution toward those who threaten us; and with justice for those who can afford the high price!”

Our front page news and TV news every day  tells about murders ,or shows angry scenes at the border towns as people shout hateful words and shake angry fists at young illegal immigrant children from Central America,   In Wichita,  it seems every news program begins with a “breaking news” report of some violence in the city—a shooting after a quarrel, a robbery, a beating.  It includes drunken drivers killing innocent people and the family members of the loved one who died reacting in anger and demanding punishment  and revenge for the killing of their loved one.

Even the sports pages contain a violent view of life:  For example,  football, a violent sport that is often reported in warlike terms with  sports analysts speaking of the potential damage that those trying to get on a team are likely to do to their opponents—“hard hitter”  a “vicious tackler”, etc.

In our political arena, after the primary elections, the candidates now statethe battle has just begun!”   And the character assassination mud is already in the air for the November general election.   Fear and hatred are the hot-buttons that are being pushed, and as Yogi Berra once said:   “it’s deja vu all over again!”    Hostility towards opponents, hostility toward immigrants, hostility towards anyone and any issue that the candidate doesn’t agree with is the way the political opponents work these days, it seems, and if you don’t agree with the person about the issues then you will be slandered, vilified, and be subject to character assassination.   There is little discussion of the issues—it’s all personal and hostile and  an attempt to appeal  to the fear and hostility of the voters in this angry nation.

In all of the above, it seems it is always the “other person’s” fault. It seems it is “us”, the pure and above reproach against “them” who deserve our contempt, hatred and retribution because somebody must be blamed for the bad things that happen. It is always someone else’s fault. A recent example of this is an article about an interview with Kansas Governor Brownback, in which he explains the reason for his poor showing in the primary election (Brownback got 60% of the vote and his opponent, an unknown and poorly financed got 40%) is all to be blamed on President Obama! Really??!!

What goes out the window in an increasingly hostile and fearful and angry nation is any desire to strive for the “common good” of all the  people.   It is always “ME” and never “WE” that wins out in the midst of the hostile and fearful times I have described above.   There is a better way.   The hatred and fear mongers among our politicians and political party activists need to go back to “the founding fathers.

The Founding Fathers that conservatives like to appeal to had a lot of disagreements—-often very vigorous disagreements.  But when they came together to write a Constitution that would govern our country they made sure to include in the Preamble these words:  “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, promote domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

Those in our present Congress would do well to examine and try to explain how they are keeping the oath they took to uphold the Constitution!   With their hostile and partisan bickering the “common welfare”; i.e. “the common good” goes out the window.   Instead of seeking common ground on any of the issues above they continue to name-call, shake fists, assassinate character, etc.    It is “ME” instead of “WE”.   WHEN “ME” RULES INSTEAD OF “WE” THE COMMON GOOD IS NEVER ACHIEVED..

Those in our national and state legislatures and those who elect them might well take heed of the wisdom of the founding fathers and work for the common good of all the people of this country.

Only when “WE”  the People, and not ME the  individual, come together to solve our nation’s problems can we truthfully salute our flag, saying:   “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”