It’s tempting to blame partisan politics for last summer’s debacle over “death panels” and the very idea of doctors and patients holding conversations about the end of life. But the truth is: these conversations are difficult. Although some people welcome them, others approach the subject of death cautiously. Many of us would rather not explore what awaits us in the final years or weeks of life. Perhaps this reluctance explains why only one in five Americans has completed an advance directive for medical care.
In the movie District 9, an alien spaceship stalls in the skies above Johannesburg. After three months with no communication, South Africans decide to board the ship, only to find a million aliens who need rescuing. They move them to District 9, an area that’s a cross between a township and a refugee camp.
When I arrived as pastor at Beech Grove United Methodist Church, the community was bitterly divided because one member was running against another to be county commissioner. The primary issue in the campaign was whether to zone Beech Grove Road, on which sat Beech Grove Church. Issues of class weren’t far behind.
The attention given to the extreme and increasing wealth of the top 1 percent can be misleading. It glosses over the fact that the people just below them—those in the 81st to 99th percentile—are also gaining wealth much faster than other sectors, pulling away from the middle-class people below them. The focus on the top 1 percent gives those other members of the upper class the illusion that they’re in the same economic boat as the population below them when they are not (Brookings, September 10).