It’s been difficult not to think about the Pope lately: Time Magazine Person of the Year (2013), eschewing the trappings of past prelates, carrying his own bags, driving his used car, living in a stripped down guest house, caressing infants, wandering children, and shunned adults each with the same delight and tenderness… Then we find out he used to be bouncer in his younger days: what’s not to like?!
Apparently our man Rush managed to trash Francis: I knew then the Pope was definitely doing something right: I mean, correct. The Pope, taking the name of a wealthy young guy from Assisi who stripped naked and turned his back on a life of privilege and commerce (when will Rush be dissing St. Francis for his anti-capitalist positions?), has had the temerity to suggest that perhaps not all is well when so many on this globe live in the worst of poverty while so few enjoy unprecedented wealth; perhaps not all is well when so many live homeless, starving, and dying from treatable disease; perhaps the ‘haves’ might want to take a serious look at all those ‘nots’ and extend a hand while repairing a system or two…? I digress… a bit.
Here, we do not entertain, knowingly, the top 1%… It is the ‘poor getting poorer’ who primarily seek out our services. When I was hired 24 years ago it took me a while to realize that our clients were struggling not only with a life threatening virus but (many) with the devastating effects of poverty: their housing in constant jeopardy, no reliable means of transportation, victims of sexual and physical abuse, dependent on benefits that never came close to meeting basic needs, no experience of routine preventative health care etc. etc…. It’s only gotten worse…
On a daily basis I feel like I’m being subjected to a media ‘howl’ from right wing hyenas, about the fact of the Affordable Care Act: no howls however about the millions without health care! Rather all the screeching is saved for the new law’s roll out, and about how some will pay more, and about how some can’t keep old plans, and about the young’s ambivalence, etc. “The conversation” has, as they say, been hijacked, and both the plight and hope of those uninsured millions buried in babble. Could we consider celebrating what this law and opportunity means to millions of vulnerable and struggling Americans…?! Radical concept, I know…
Everyday our waiting rooms in Syracuse, Utica, Cayuga, Canton, Oswego, and Watertown are crowded with community members seeking assistance from our Patient Navigators, to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Health Care provisions. This new ACR Health service has been a remarkable eye opener for me: people coming in angry with all kinds of negative beliefs and feelings about the new law (due to the ‘howl’ factor), leaving with smiles, hugs, tears, and gratitude. I do not exaggerate, even a little bit… It is a daily affirmation of a desperate need and of one very positive solution we’re privileged to be a part of facilitating.
I haven’t given the Pope’s theologies or doctrinal positions a good going over, and I’m sure I would take issue with some, if not many of them, but I do champion his speaking up and out for economic justice – for suggesting the ‘G’ word as a scandal that wounds millions on a daily basis. Greed: the 5 letter word no one seems to want to say, much less consider. I don’t care your religious persuasion or even if you have one, the globe needs a voice for the ‘poor getting poorer’ and right now Francis stands as a conscience and a challenge in the face of overwhelming avarice that leaves so many without even the basics of a dignified life.
Rumor has it Francis is not afraid to stroll, incognito, the streets of Rome after a long day of being Pope. I like to imagine him passing by clubs with long lines of well-heeled folks, him harkening back to his bouncer days. I like to think of all those ‘nots’ he’d be welcoming, and all those ‘haves’ he’d be leaving howling at the door: too toxic to let in and spoil the party; I like to think he’d be roughing up a few and unceremoniously throwing them to the curb: a bit of their own medicine… Strictly my need/fantasy, I know. He’d be nicer… being Pope and all… But I can’t believe it wouldn’t cross his mind… and that not only gives me pleasure but hope for the Pope and his message and the globe.
Happy New Year
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