Editor’s Note: This article was written in March 2010 before “Obamacare” became law but its message continues to be relevant today…..

The healthcare bill continues to be big news having passed the House and now heading into reconciliation with the Senate.  Seems like everybody I talk to, most people I read on the Internet, and just about every TV commentator, all have some opinion about the legislation.  I suspect you do too.

I’m not going to debate the merits of the bill the House passed.  I’m sure most of us would agree, it’s not perfect.  Of course, I’m sure that each of us would also have our own idea of what the “perfect” bill might be.  But let’s be honest, all legislation that works its way through our process of checks and balances would have a hard time meeting that standard.

What I want ask you is this — setting aside specifics of the bill and whether you’re in favor of it or not, what is the underlying emotion that drives your opinion?

Love or Fear?

Now, I suspect I know what you might be thinking… you may be thinking “emotions have nothing to do with this… my opinion of this legislation is based on fact, logic and reason”.  I agree that we all have specific logical reasons that we can point at as the justification for our position.  What I want us to consider is that behind our rational thought is an underlying emotion that serves to direct our conscious belief.

What is that emotion?  You might come up with lots of words for it… happy, disgust, relief, anger, etc. It is my opinion that we could take all these emotions and plot them on a continuum with fear on one end and love on the other.  I recognize that you might not immediately agree, but I’m asking you to consider for a moment that underlying all our opinions on the healthcare bill are the two emotions of either love and fear.

The other night on television I saw a clip of some protesters of the healthcare bill shouting at a person with Parkinson’s disease who was there in favor of the legislation.  The display of anger (screaming, throwing dollar bills at him, etc.) directed at this fellow human being simply because he held a different opinion shocked me.  I sat there wondering what could lead a person to be so disrespectful towards another person simply for holding a different political belief?  Of course, I’m not naïve, I know this goes on all the time… I’ve written about this level of disrespect before… about radio and TV commentators who seem to stir up angry confrontation.  Yet still I wondered, what drives people to such rude behavior.  Then it struck me — these protesters were afraid.

How We Look at Life

Now I recognize that I am about to oversimplify this, but for the sake of brevity and posing the question about our underlying emotion, I want us to consider that there are two general ways that we look out at life and other people.

In the first way, we see ourselves as this distinct individual who has needs to meet.  We look out at the world and see limited resources available to meet those needs.  We see other people who are separate from us and in competition with us for those limited resources.  Therefore we are fearful that if we don’t grab what’s “ours”, others will grab it.  Our basic motivation is fear.

In the second way, we see ourselves as individuals who are part of a greater whole.  Yes, we have needs that need to be met.  But we also see our interconnectedness to other people and recognize they have needs as well.  Our level of care and concern has expanded beyond ourselves.  We want to meet our needs, but not in such a competitive way that we win and others lose.  Our basic motivation is love.

Which way do you look at life?  You may see a little bit of yourself in both descriptions.  Which one is prominent in your thinking?  Which one is important for humanity’s continued survival and further evolution?  I hope you agree that ultimately humanity needs to be acting more out of love.

What Would Love Do?

This is always a good question to ask when faced with a dilemma, so it seems like the proper question to ask as we consider our opinion on the healthcare issue.

We could take all of the pros and all the cons and all our concerns and all our questions about the bill Congress is considering and weigh them all against the question “what would love do?”

As I have considered it, the motivation of love would move us beyond the fear that we would lose while others win.  Love would pull us to finding a solution that allows everyone to have access to affordable health care.  Love would take us outside of any selfish concerns (don’t raise my taxes, don’t mess with my healthcare, my political party needs to win, my opinion needs to prevail, etc.) and move us to solutions that work for everyone.

So as the debate continues and you find yourself discussing healthcare with others, I am suggesting that you stop and ask yourself “how would love respond in this moment?” That is, how can you honor people and their variety of opinions in this moment?  How can you shift the social discourse from negativity and fear towards the direction of what’s best for everyone?  What suggestion can you offer that comes from the heart of love?

In this moment and every moment, the choice is yours: are you choosing fear or are you choosing love?

Mark

PS in case you’re interested, recently I have written a couple of other articles about the healthcare bill.  In one, “Heathcare Deals and Our Greatest Ideals” I expressed my concern over how Congress was making certain deals which I felt were not in our collective best interest in order to get enough votes to pass the bill.  In another, “Killing Time with President Obama” I pointed out, how I felt that the effort made by President Obama to reach across the aisle and move us beyond this overly partisan environment in which we are mired was worth the time and effort even though it caused a delay in the passage of the legislation.

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!