On September 19th, leaders from Massachusetts to Texas to California and everywhere in between gathered together again on the foundation of “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live.” The Nonviolent Medicaid Army was in the midst of their second annual weeks of action grounded in the truth that everyone has the right to healthcare, with the bold knowledge that this right is connected to all human rights. Dr. Savina Martin rooted us in scripture to propel us forward together across any lines that divide us as we collectively work for healthcare for all.
Sermon by Dr. Savina Martin, Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign & National Union of the Homeless
The fight for healthcare as a fundamental human right crosses all lines of division. The system’s death-dealing behavior tells us that the society needs restructuring. It is our fundamental human right to live in a society that is designed for everybody to live. Our poor and sick deserve the right; physically challenged/disabled, housed and unhoused have rights’ waged and unwaged worker’s demand rights; and our sheltered and unsheltered should have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Healthcare is a human right! It is a sacred and holy rite. The greedy, however,– have continued to capitalize, commodify and criminalize the right for the working class poor to access fair and a dignified right to live and thrive.
One of the main themes in the Wisdom of Solomon points out that he was presented the opportunity to ask anything whatsoever from God. He chose not gold or glory but Wisdom. What we know is that Solomon was Israel’s third King. He was also known as Jedidiah (beloved of the Lord). His forty-year reign is regarded as Israel’s golden age. It was an age of prosperity and national unity, but in the end his reign ended disastrously as he began to oppress the people. He broke promises, accumulating things he should not have accumulated. Solomon failed to heed this warning and through lust, greed for trade, and fascination with things foreign and pagan he turned away from the Lord and built things for himself. He built large and opulent buildings. In other words, they closed down and gentrified – displacing poor people, impacting generations of culture and health.
It is said that Solomon in combination with a large central government, an extravagant palace life and extensive building projects, weakened the national economy with high taxes and conscripted labor. Increasingly Solomon offended against subsidiarity by interfering in local affairs through his officials. As God told him, the legacy of his turning was a divided kingdom.
Was it greed? Yes. Was it the foreign entanglements ignited by that greed and desire for power? Yes. Was it corruption by the world that greed, foreign entanglements, and admiration of foreign ways caused these things? Surely. Was it lust? Yes!
Greed in the midst of abundance is prevalent. The words and deeds by those in power are visible by way of violent poverty policies. Violent policies summon death; like the US system’s refusal to support the struggle for healthcare as a human right. During the onslaught of the pandemic we witnessed disproportionate communities dying from COVID-19, while the privileged stock-piled for themselves resources, material and protective gear at the expense of human lives in our rural and vulnerable cities and towns. They reason the power they hold with unfair and unsound rational thinking: “They’re gonna die anyway.”They already suffer from pre-existing conditions…”
Christian Nationalism blames the poor for their own problems, situations, poverty and illnesses. Yet, healthcare on demand has given the rich access beyond measure while the poor are left to spiral deeper into poorer, and ultimately to die. The rich profess to have knowledge of God, and call themselves children of the Lord, while they inscribe “in God we trust” on every dollar bill – this instrument dictates on wall street whether we live or die. Meanwhile we will not stop demanding that everybody has the right to live.
In this upcoming season we, the poor–are organizing the poor to take action together. Our fight will be waged to restructure a society where everyone thrives. The Solomon’s we are witnessing today are cloned and cloaked in the capitalist system. Their greed sucks the life blood out of its people, the poor, the worker’s, the unwaged who have laid their bodies on the line, sick or suffering. They labor only to birth an assembly line of workers that labor long hours to produce a line of goods and services at the expense that the workers cannot afford. And most likely work and die anyway from unmet healthcare needs. The working poor have marched, chanted, yelled, and screamed at a system for decades that regards the poor as human industrial waste.
Today, as we fight and rage against the machine, against a system– wall street– that bet on fulfilling sickness and death, infirment and imprisonment. We will continue to take action together demanding OUR infrastructure,OUR people’s package which includes healthcare, housing, water, wages, food and welfare…let this be the season we rise to take action together to strike a blow at Goliath… Collect the five smooth stones of our five interlocking injustices, now place them in your pouch and save them for the coming days. We are literally in a fight for our lives as millions of people are at healthcare risk of dying from poverty, the pandemic of greed.
Our final prayer is, let us aim now, let us pray now for the National Nonviolent Medicaid Army, that we are aiming to sling a smooth stone from and strike a blow at systemic poverty, systemic racism, systemic healthcare devastation and strike down the final blow at the distorted moral narrative of Christian Nationalism that is responsible for a distorted belief system that “others” do not count. That a system built on death, blood and the grave of the unknown poor are forgotten mishaps, or an “oh well, it was their fault for the life they lived…”
No! Today our fight for fundamental rights of healthcare is our welfare, our right to liberty and our fight for justice. Let us do this in remembrance of all those we have lost these past decades. Let us remember the high holy weeks, its festivals and meaning observed, remember the atonement. Strike a blow, the system of greed must go!
Amen, Amandal, and power to the people!
Strike a blow, the system of greed must go! Amen.
Our rights have been under attack for centuries, and we feel the acuteness of this in our pandemic moment. People are struggling to survive while no one is less worthy of having their health cared for than another, which is why we highlight the struggle across the nation. The following is a video that introduces us to the powerful work that the Nonviolent Medicaid Army is doing to say that we all matter, that we all deserve care, and that there are enough resources for us all.
May we continue to organize across all lines of division, all fronts of struggle, and demand to receive what it is ours – our right to health care, amidst all our basic human rights.
Join us Sunday for Freedom Church of the Poor at 6:00pm EST and La Iglesia del Pueblo at 7:30pm EST at: https://www.facebook.com/povertyinitiative/