In my studies of Buddhism I’ve been learning about the importance of intention. You could say that examining intention is at the root of Buddhist morality. I want to do this thing. Why do I want to do this thing? What is the intention behind my desire to do this thing? Is it selfishness? Is it craving? Am I trying to fill a void with this thing rather than examine the void? Am I angry? Jealous? Insecure? Afraid? According to Buddhist teachings, by learning to examine one’s intention before acting or speaking, one becomes more skillful in making wise decisions.
There is a somewhat cynical saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I wonder if it might better be said that the road to Hell is paved with unwise actions based upon unexamined intentions. That wording isn’t as catchy though.
Today I’ve been trying to apply this same methodology of examining intentions to the current political health care brouhaha. Obamacare was a mess, but what was the intention behind it? From what I can recall and discern, the root intention was to get more people insured–particularly people falling through the cracks of the American health care system. Despite its many flaws, the ACA did succeed in enabling tens of millions of folks to get medical coverage who otherwise would not have had it: low income folks, children, the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, young adults who couldn’t yet afford insurance, etc. It seems that the goal of Obamacare was to help people have better lives.
So then I have to ask, what is the intention behind the Republican health care plans from the Senate and House? I’m still trying to figure it out, but it seems driven by the desire to maximize revenues and avoid responsibility for taking care of one another. But maybe I’m missing something. I’ll keep looking…