Open Letter to the President (8/23/2009)

(The following is the text of a letter I have written to send to our President and elected officials. Granted, one voice by itself may not change much, but I hope one voice added to others will help influence our elected officials to recognize the importance of reforming our current health system.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

I want to thank you for taking the time to address people of faith during this week’s “40 Minutes For Health Reform.”  Understanding the many demands on your time, I am appreciative not only that you spoke directly to so many of us, but also that you shared with us your view that comprehensive reform of our health system is an imperative ethical issue facing us today. Although we lack a clear consensus as to how reform might best occur, there appears to be a growing recognition in our nation that change is necessary.

I’m a preacher, so let me share a related narrative. In 2006 my wife and I moved from Illinois to Arizona, shifting from two salaries to one. In Arizona we found ourselves looking for a home for the first time in our marriage. Approved for a decent mortgage, we could have chosen to purchase; we were, in fact, encouraged by realtors to do so. However, we took time to consider the options, we drafted a working budget based on expected expenses, and we realized that on a single salary we could not reasonably support a mortgage. Today we still rent, with the hope that one day in the not-too-distant future we will purchase our first home.

It is with anger – and, to be honest, a degree of self-righteousness that I am trying to overcome – that I watched the fallout in housing the last few years. I’ve personally known many families struggling, and recognize there are so many more. Granted, some shirked responsibility and chose mortgages or houses far beyond their means; but others have lost modest homes because of unemployment or other loss.

I am frustrated that our market allowed for such a financial tsunami to occur. I am angry at corporations or individual investors who approved risky mortgages in order to make insane amounts of money in a bull-market. And I am sad for my friends and neighbors, experiencing the loss of homes and jobs while others experienced financial gain at their expense.

I believe health care reform will face this great human obstacle: that too often too many of us look only to our own interests. We seek to meet our needs or desires, and forget to consider the impact our choices may have on others.

I believe this will challenge us in the days ahead as our national leaders work toward reform. I believe our leaders are intelligent, well-intentioned people – regardless of their party or ideology – who seek to suggest well-thought means by which we might improve our health system. However, in addition to honest questions and challenges, I expect you will all continue to experience dishonest criticism and opposition.

I wish, Mr. President, that I had a solution that would help with the storm we find ourselves in. Unfortunately, I have not been granted that kind of wisdom. But I believe if you, our congressional leaders, and appropriate experts work together, you can discern a means by which the health of our nation’s people might be elevated above our desire for wealth.

In the mean time I am one voice among many, calling for systemic change. Even as we, as individuals, must take greater responsibility for our individual health, I believe our national leaders must take greater responsibility for the oversight or regulation of the many subcomponents of our health system.

I will also be one voice offering prayer for you, Mr. President, as well as our nation’s many other leaders. Together, may you find ways to put aside divisiveness and work, wisely and compassionately, in the best interest of all the people.


Rev. Ron V. Bartlow
Queen Creek, Arizona

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)


3 responses to “Open Letter to the President (8/23/2009)

  1. Well stated, Ron.

  2. Good letter. I agree, health care reform is an ethical issue and I hope faith communities all over the country are discussing it. Overall, I’m upset (but not surprised) at the lack of constructive criticism. It’s all accusation and name-calling with no alternative suggestions to solve the problem at hand. I hope all people of faith, regardless of their political ideology, will pray for our elected leaders.

  3. Oh, on a person note, I want to add that I have been praying a lot about this issue. Not just that it’s solved and that all people will get the health care they need and have the right to have, but that my heart and mind aren’t clouded by fear, selfishness or pride, and that I (with help from the Holy Spirit) and form an opinion that is in line with Christ’s teachings. It’s definitely been something keeping me up at night. (please forgive that crazy awkward sentence- I have no idea how I earned my university diploma with my poor grammar and punctuation).

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