The following was in Reports and Epistles (FJ Mar.): "Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting is concerned that many persons in the U.S. receive inadequate healthcare. In a country with immense wealth, the situation is incomprehensible. Such a condition is contrary to our duty to care for the weak and vulnerable. We urge Friends, with divine assistance to work to transform our healthcare system so that everyone in the U.S. has access to healthcare that is comprehensive and of high quality. We will share this concern with all U.S. yearly meetings, public officials, and our fellow citizens. We seek the leading of the Spirit to discern the way forward on this concern."
This minute was adopted a month before September 11, when our national government seemed to think its biggest problem was how to spend the (now apparently vanished) surplus. It may have been reasonable at that time to think that this was a problem whose solution would come from the government. The likelihood of political leadership on this problem now seems greatly diminished, but the problem remains.
Early Friends believed that they were called to build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. They were not waiting for some future event to usher in an age of peace and justice. It was up to them to act. I believe the OVYM’s challenge is an opportunity to return to that vision of who we are as a people. We can see our role as merely prophetic—calling this problem to the attention of the wider society—or we can see ourselves as patterns and models for that society. Rather than urging others to do something to solve this problem, we can start to do it ourselves.
I am asking individual Friends, monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings to pledge themselves to provide for those within our society. Can we minute our intention to provide the financial resources to make sure that all members of the Religious Society of Friends will have access to appropriate medical care? Such an action is not without precedent—from our earliest days, we have had Sufferings Funds to care for Friends who needed help.
This could be a small start to solving a large problem that goes beyond our Religious Society, but one that we can accomplish. I invite all those who are interested in carrying this concern forward in this way to send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org.