Commentary: Personal bankruptcy and the sin of getting too sick

The Myrtle Beach Sun NewsSeptember 22, 2012 


Issac Bailey is a columnist for The Sun-News, in Myrtle Beach, S.C.


This weekend, a friend was mixing it up at a wedding shower, helping ease another woman’s path into that bedrock institution.

The next day she was lying in a hospital bed at the Medical University of South Carolina, having suffered a brain aneurysm.

It’s one of those unexpected events that happen across the globe every day, if not every minute or every second.

It’s shocking only in the sense that it touches someone you love, someone you recently sat around the dinner table with joking about the stupid things teenage boys do and contemplating serious subjects, such as just how faith should be lived out in an ever-changing world.

You know bad things happen to good people all the time; you just don’t want them to happen to the good people you know.

This weekend, it did any way.

I know that she and her husband are kind and compassionate.

I know that they are responsible people who loved their children through the ups-and-downs of parenting.

I know they adore each other and respect each other and try to protect each other and work to help others when they can and stand firm when they must and give in situations in which others would be guided by egos.

They are productive.

They work hard.

They make the world a better place.

No matter any of that, though, their lives were up-ended because an undetected, weak blood vessel decided it was time to explode.

It seems unfair.

It is unfair.

My initial concern about how they would face the aftermath of brain surgery and adjust their broader lives and private their relationship quickly drifted to something else.

No matter the talk about 47 percent of Americans supposedly being slackers or government-dependent or irresponsible, the top cause of personal bankruptcy is the sin of getting too sick, too quickly, the sin of an unexpected major medical emergency.

I’ve seen it crush and almost crush many people over the past several years, from a woman who was paralyzed while helping a stranger during a purse snatching, to a college student who had to drop out of school and worry about how her mother would pay the mortgage and the thousands of dollars of expenses that resulted from treating an incurable, rare cancer.

I’ve seen people hold their heads high and their faith strong through layoffs caused by nameless, faceless people making dollars-and-cents decisions states away.

I’ve watched people lose homes because of a real estate bubble they had no way of knowing was about to burst like a blood vessel in the brain, without knowing that such a bubble even existed.

I’ve watched people pick themselves off the floor after the unexpected slapped them down.

I’ve seen them act as though they were not victims – smiling any way, helping others any way – even though their circumstances screamed otherwise.

Most of the millions of Americans who need help, some private, some public, aren’t standing on a sidewalk holding a tin cup asking a stranger if he could spare a dime, a sandwich.

They are like my friends, living lives worthy of the breath God has granted them, come what may

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