In his first extended television interview since leaving the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter tells Bill Moyers why he left his successful career as the head of Public Relations for CIGNA, one of the nation's largest insurers, and decided to speak out against the industry.
Wendell Potter is doing a good thing, but his story turned my stomach. I listened to him explain that sick and dying people were "just numbers" to him and his colleagues in the insurance industry. I spoke out loud to the TV: "They will burn in Hell."
I don't believe in a literal Hell run by a red guy with horns, but I do not doubt the reality of spiritual consequences. People who have the power and the responsibility to alleviate suffering but choose to dismiss the needy as "just numbers" bring onto their own souls the most serious of consequences.
I'm not alone in my belief. The final straw came for Mr. Potter when he read JFK's Profiles In Courage:
. . . one of the president's . . . favorite quotes was a Dante quote that, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain a neutrality." And when I read that, I said, "Oh, jeez, I--you know--I'm headed for that hottest place in hell, unless I say something."
Amen, Mr. Potter, and good for you for having the courage to face yourself and do the right thing.
People whose lives have been too easy often find it easy to dismiss the suffering of others. I've always believed that, but I never heard one of them say it until I saw this interview with Mr. Potter. It hit me hard to hear him describe just HOW e-a-s-y it is for the powerful and privileged to dehumanize others. I have not been able to get it off my mind.
Bill Moyer's Journal, July 10, 2009, Transcript