Some years ago I did a few days of meditation at the Zen Center in Cumberland, (a scary town full of trees and deer ticks), and they had a kind of in-joke. When the monks and nuns got sick they would call it ‘car trouble’.
Around that time I studied martial arts with a young and athletic doctor. She said that when she had to visit a mechanic she felt empathy for what her patients went through when they were not firing on all their cylinders. It’s tough to have to trust your wheels to a disdainful guy who may not like your kind. (You girls know what I’m talking about).
Well, we’ve progressed. Bob at D’Ambra’s Service Station on Hope St. has taken very good care of my cars. Having spent more time searching for an honest mechanic than true love I have a high respect for mechanic’s skills. After all, you have to trust them to keep your car prepped for the high speed lane.
As for that other vehicle–
Andrew Sullivan makes a good comparison when talking about the free market approach to health insurance, explaining why health insurance is different from car insurance…
To continue with the car insurance analogy, pretend that everyone has one car that cannot be sold. Some people have lemon cars whose brakes fail every week, or have continuous oil leaks, etc. In other words, the insurance company knows that it will have to pay out on the people with lemon cars, not just occasionally, but continuously. There’s absolutely no incentive to insure these people at all. We could, as a society, say well, that’s tough. Only, eventually, we all end up with lemon cars – we’re all going to die one day, and the large majority of us will be sick for some time before that.
This is a brilliant insight. Your soul has one vehicle in this world. Is your value as a human being defined by your ability to go from zero to sixty in under 10 minutes? Can your worth to society be measured in your yearly income?
Sullivan touches on the question of what we are. A society that cares for its own, or one that holds profit as the supreme value. Right now Steven Hawking is sick. His contribution would have been lost to us if we discarded all our citizens who need care to get by.