Mercy and Grace at Heart in the American Dream

We like to think of America as a place of mercy and grace. In America the Beautiful, Katharine Lee Bates calls on God to shed his grace on this country that celebrates its birth today. But reflecting on these words and current expressions of public values about health and wellbeing, we have to wonder. How well is this working out?

America the Merciless

Writing in the New York Times, Pamela Paul is not optimistic:

“What, if anything, makes this country different from other countries, or from the rest of the developed world, in terms of morals or ideals? In what ways do our distinct values inform how America treats its own citizens?

“I land on a distinct absence of mercy.”

She is understandably dismayed that a number of places in America think it will be a good idea to make a young woman bear a child when she is a victim of rape or incest.

Setting aside America’s current struggles with issues of respect for a woman’s autonomy in healthcare (if that’s possible), it’s hard to ignore the distinct lack of equity in healthcare. If a child is Black, Hispanic, or born into poverty, they face the prospect of a shorter life and much higher odds of living with chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. These disparities are no accident. They are by design, rooted in America’s history of slavery and exploitation of immigrants.

Among eleven high income countries, a recent study puts the United States at dead last for equity. What’s more, the U.S. is falling further behind those other countries.

Equity and Opportunity

At its very best, America presents itself as a land of opportunity. But inequity gets in the way. Even entrenched business interests, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recognize this today. In the present, contentious political landscape of America, mercy and grace are not easy to find. Our hope is that we can find these qualities within ourselves and share them with our neighbors. We will be better for it.

Click here for further perspective from Pamela Paul. For more about inequity in healthcare, click here, in obesity care, click here.

Modern Industry in the Epic of American Civilization, painting by Jose Clemente Orozco / WikiArt

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July 4, 2022

4 Responses to “Mercy and Grace at Heart in the American Dream”

  1. July 04, 2022 at 9:28 am, Allen Browne said:

    Mercy and grace are in the hearts of most people. But not some of those currently in power in our government. VOTE!

  2. July 04, 2022 at 11:20 am, Michael Jones said:

    Hi Ted,
    It may serve your heretofore laudable efforts to provide a helpful space for the advancement of obesity science/treatment to avoid opinions that wax political. You should be aware your audience is not homogeneous in this regard. Or, perhaps you are aware already. Regards, Mike.

    • July 04, 2022 at 12:58 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks, Michael. I honestly don’t see how concern about mercy and grace or even concern about a young victim of rape or incest is “waxing political.” But if you do, that is entirely up to you.

  3. July 04, 2022 at 1:11 pm, Angela Golden said:

    What an eloquent post. Thank you on the day of our countries birthday to remind us that grace and mercy are needed more now than ever. I agree with Allen that most people do have grace in their hearts – however louder voices even if in the minority make it clear we need more!