Perry Flippin relayed some Pulpit Patter he read from a friend’s church bulletin. The writer is pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Yoakum. His editorial evolved from the verse in Genesis 4:9 where the Lord God said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain’s famous reply was “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

From the word “keeper,” Pastor Phil Steinbach explained that in the Hebrew language the word “keeper” means more than “unintended emotional baggage, as in I don’t want to be somebody’s keeper any more than I want to be kept.”

In the Hebrew the word means much more, such as to guard, to watch for, to preserve, protect and be aware of others. This original meaning of the word is much deeper and broader than our English word.

Then the pastor appeared to some to be wandering from a Bible sermon. Pastor Phil wrote concerning the health care insurance debate by asking “Is universal health care a human right?”

He said, “I believe it is.”

After such a question followed by such a bold answer, I wonder if he is still preaching at that church. I’ve met and heard from church people (mostly via e-mail) who do not want government to have any say in health care. Without realizing it, these folks want to keep the human right of health care in the hands of the health insurance industry. A monopoly that has become monetarily obese with the way they handle premiums and cancel policies as they please.

I wanted to share this with the church-going, believing Christians who take Bible admonitions seriously. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Chinese say that with only four words: “Ai Ren Ru Ji.” We say it with more words, but has it sunk in enough that we actually put it into practice?

Being a brother/sister to others and caring for them as we care for ourselves is not canceled when it involves finances. People are people, even if some ride a bicycle and others a Cadillac; if some can’t help themselves and others overindulge themselves.

Why should health care be less important than keeping our roads paved? Or our police and firemen alert and paid? It is our taxes that do that along with countless other benefits many of us never see. Brother Phil says it is in the best interest of everyone to remove financial barriers from access to quality health care.

No doubt there is corruption and abuse of power in government. But it is equally true that numbers of the health insurance industry show little efficiency and concern for the health and welfare of the people. The insurance monopoly has spent millions and millions of dollars to defeat the public option proposal. They have not been ethical in their attack by lies and half-truths. Why? Because it would cut into their ungodly profits. It would not put them out of business.

God’s concern for Cain is seen in his question. He cared for Able, ill-treated and abused to death, and for Cain, the abusing brother. Possible God hoped a lesson would be learned and Cain would turn over a new leaf and care for, rather than mistreat, the rest of his fellow-humans. We are connected. When one hurts, we all eventually hurt.

Last week when I wrote on the need for a public option, many were in favor. Other e-mail response were negative. One in particular wrote of my daughter’s uninsured situation: “I am truly sorry … However I am beyond appalled that you would exploit this situation to propagate the misinformation of the extreme left’s mission to socialize our health care industry. Shame on you.”

It is time the health insurance issue was recognized as an American need. It is not a party issue. It is far beyond such petty opinions between politicians looking fearfully how to vote. It is a moral issue. We are all in the same boat. Last Friday, on the Bill Maher TV program, Bill Moyers said: “We [America] are a great crippled giant with self-inflicted wounds…” We have ignored the moral law for outright greed on a national scale. Without a public option there is no reform. Only a weak and worthless law. Some will accept anything or nothing, but half a loaf is not better than a full loaf. Hang in there, President Obama, until the whole loaf is done, even if it takes decades or years. It took American women 140 years to be allowed to vote. There were no food and drug laws until 1900s. It was 100 years after the Civil War that blacks were treated as full citizens.

I keep wondering, what is it that keeps us from being something greater than we are? Selfishness, egocentricity, xenophobia, the blame game? Rejecting these attitudes can help us find our way to a heritage greater than any this nation has ever known.

See you in church.

Britt Towery, a native of Brownwood, lives in San Angelo. E-mail him your opinions and ideas at bet@sudden

link.net. His columns also appear on TexasEscapes.com.