The Common Good

Health Care: Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers?

So my son came home from kindergarten on Friday all ravenous and hungry like he always is. No snacks in school so he is always a raving lunatic looking for a cookie after school. As a side note, I think there should be a snack break for every age and stage of life. From kindergarten to corporate America.

We plopped down to much a little lunch, the meal I whipped together in a frenzy as he slumped over in the kitchen clutching his stomach and whining, "I'm starving." To which I quipped "do you even know what it means to starve?!" And as I started in on my "kids in extreme-poverty starve, you are just hungry" tirade I stopped mid-sentence and decided that today was not the day for yet another save the world campaign. Today I would just make PB&J.

So I slapped together a little creamy PB, strawberry preserves and whole grain bread sans crust and sat myself down to mine the brain of a six-year-old. As he chewed, slugged down some cold milk, and much to my chagrin, cleared his sticky face with his sleeve, he asked me his burning question for the day.

"Hey Mom, why do some kids say that finders are keepers and losers are weepers?"

"Who said that honey?"

"This boy in class today, when he grabbed the good crayons that I was using."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, he said he got them first and then he said 'finders keepers, losers weepers'."

To which my non-confrontational son then told me he shrugged and moved on to different crayons.

I fought every urge to beg him to tell me which kid tried to snake the good crayons. Really, it did not matter. My son just wanted to know why he had been dubbed the loser that day. Why he was the one who had to go without the good stuff. I unpacked the idea for him, he wiped his face with his shirt and then went off to play legos. He was over it.

But me, typical melodramatic me, let the conversation nag my brain all day. Why, at the age of six, are there already winners and losers? Why is life divided up that way from birth?

Today I saw an article in our local paper. It was the story of an eight-year-old girl who, for her birthday party, asked her friends to bring food items that could be donated to a local food pantry rather than presents. Seriously. An eight-year-old girl did this. And the columnist who interviewed her did a great job of capturing the very fact that this girl was able to somehow see those on "the losing end" of life's transactions and decide to help them.

"Finders keepers, losers weepers" did not apply to her.

I want my son to be like that when he is eight. I want to be like that when I turn thirty-eight or eight-eight.

How can we live in such a way that we walk through life helping the "losers" rather than rubbing it in their faces that we are the "finders?"

This past week the entire nation has erupted into the health-care debate with more fervor than ever before. Don't worry, I am not about to wax eloquent on this debate as honestly, I cannot do so. I am confused at the moment. But I do know that in this debate, like so many others, we are ultimately fighting about what to do with the winners and the losers. And we are trying to do it in such a way that the winners do not suddenly become losers.

It's a big, fiery mess. And both sides make good points. And as we debate and regroup I pray that we can all do so with an eye for those on the losing end. I do not mean the political losers, I mean the names and the faces of the actual people without health care that go with all the debates (whether they "deserve" to be without it or not). This sounds naive and idyllic and I confess that it probably is.

You see, most of the people who are arguing in Washington these days actually have health care, and darn good health care at that. They are the winners even when they lose. They get sick, they get help, chemo, surgery, experimental drugs, rehab, whatever they need. They are all on the winning side because if someone says to them "you have cancer," then they get to say "what are my options?"

Millions of others, not so much.

This is not to say that the right side won or the wrong side lost or that we should just open up our national wallet and hastily empty out whatever is left. But it is to say that we should pray for a perspective on this all that transcends the kindergarten playground. That Finders should never be Keepers and it is unfair to force losers into weeping. An eight-year-old in my community figured this out last week.

Maybe we should send her to DC?

portrait-tracey-bianchiTracey Bianchi blogs about finding a saner, greener life from the heart of the Chicago suburbs. She wrote Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet (Zondervan 2009) and blogs at traceybianchi.com.

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