Last week the Los Angeles Times released a front-page story on a Southern California medical practitioner. Dr. Prem Reddy is a cardiologist who has already purchased eight hospitals and hopes to add a further six in the next few months. The buying spree, claims the Times report, is making his company one of the largest hospital owners in the State and placing it in a position to challenge industry leaders.
The difference in Reddy's hospitals, however, appears to consist in a shift in the philosophy of medical care. The enterprise has proven very profitable for Dr. Reddy but at what cost to the adaptation of American values? According to the article, Dr. Reddy is unapologetic in providing health care commensurate with what a patient can afford. "Why should (everybody) expect the same medical treatment?" he asks. Evidently medicine, like so many other things, has here become simply a matter of making money and is no longer about compassion for ailing humanity.
The brother of our Lord Jesus, the apostle James once wrote an amazing thing (2:1-6):
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor."
As I continued to read the article, I learned that Dr. Reddy is originally from Nellore in India. At that point the disturbing pieces came together for me. Of course, he would think in terms of a human hierarchy with some people more deserving than others. The inequalities of the caste system are pervasive in Indian society.
America, by contrast, was founded on Christian ideals which affirm equality among peoples. As part of God's creation we are all equally deserving: black and white, rich and poor, celebrity or unknown, men and women.
Dr. Reddy's worldview, steeped in Hindu thought, is a reminder and perhaps a wake-up call that the very foundations of our society cannot be taken for granted and that the elements we espouse are under constant threat from our pluralistic age. So while it may be fashionable today to be tolerant of every conceivable ideology, that very acquiescence may result in the unraveling of American culture as we have known it.
Human equality is an American ideal only because it is first and foremost a Christian dogma. The concept that all men are created equal is actually foreign to most people in the world and is conspicuously absent from the ideologies of Hinduism and Islam.
For the Nations, Pastor Alan