Still reading Washington, by Ron Chernov. I just hit the halfway mark and finished a chapter that focused on Washington’s missed opportunity to bring emancipation to the America 100 years before the Civil War. His opportunity was this: give southern states’ slaves the option to enlist in the Continental Army. The Slave owners would receive $1,000 per slave and the slave would win their freedom at the end of the war. Now Washington wasn’t a decision maker at this time but he used his influence to speak against this revolutionary idea. Why? Because as much as he hated the slave trade and dreamed of a time when he would be rid of the institution, he was financially trapped. His plantation, Mount Vernon, required thousands of slaves to remain active and profitable. He was scared of the economic consequences of such a dramatic change.
So this really convicted me. Because as a Economist (I got a Bachelors of Science in Economics with Financial Applications), I often look at politics through the lens of what makes logical sense and what our current economy can actual do. Which means, I believe that universal healthcare at this point in our country’s economic life would be detrimental. So am I acting like Washington? Because, ideally, I believe that all U.S. citizens should have free or at least affordable healthcare. I think the amount of money being charged for our health is a crime against humanity. But I don’t think the timing is right to do anything about it. So here is the epiphany I had while reading Washington: It is never the ‘right’ time to do the right thing but that doesn’t mean that you don’t do it. There will always be consequences to change. It will always take time to adjust and restructure. But it’s always going to be that way, regardless of when it happens. We just need to rip off the band-aid.
I think this idea can be applied to the abortion debate as well. Because the majority of people dislike the idea of abortion. The pro-choice movement is called “choice” for a reason: because people think that women should have a choice, not necessarily that killing fetuses is ok. A huge argument against the pro-life movement right now is the fact that we don’t have the systems in place to adequately support these unborn babies and mothers if they choose not to terminate. But to that I say this: People made the same argument about slavery. They wanted to wait for a time that was convenient. A time when the economy could handle it. When people would be less dependent on slaves for manual labor. And because of their desire for convenience, thousands of African American men, women, and children died without seeing their freedom. Today, we are killing millions of unborn children. It should not be a question of if we have enough organizations in place. A life is a life.
You don’t wait to do the right thing until it’s the right time. You do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
I have 400 pages to go of this book so more good thoughts to come.