How we see the world and what we care about are defined by our spiritual perspective. However we might define that for ourselves, it’s that place beyond the addition and subtraction of the make up of our lives. That place is different for all of us born of the tangible and intangible make up of our lives. And as unique as it is to each of us, there are places that are the same that bring us together. It’s where we go and where we end up. It’s where we meet.
On Veterans Day, this particular Veterans Day, the sense of the precipice between service and sacrifice for our country not as a concept, but as a costly reality to us all is where we meet. It reminds us of our own individual part to take in bringing about our democracy, not as a concept but as a practice.
For instance, as we move from the revelations and expansion and potential resulting from the re-election of President Obama, congress members, local officials, we begin to hear the mounting positions on the so called “fiscal cliff.” We all watched the stunning debt crisis drama unfold August 2nd, 2011, as the President and a discordant Congress moved toward the “fiscal cliff.” For weeks before, months even, it had been impossible not to see or hear the threats of potential disaster from the media, on our cell phones, on the radio, on TV and on the internet. Due to the intensity and duration of this chaos, our response might have been to distance ourselves from the emotional content as it escalated with expert after expert, politician after politician stating random and threatening viewpoints, hyperbole and extreme, charge after charge.
For some of us, the best response was to ignore, immure ourselves as the repetition and emotional content excelerated daily. But then, non response becomes a response really, as a means to steer clear of the sense of helplessness. If we tuned into CNN, NBC or CSPAN last summer, observing our embattled paid elected public servants, it really was not that far away from watching a hair pulling bar fight from people you’re relying on to take care of things, to keep sane. Days dragged on. Dire and hostile comments prevailed as we witnessed a President getting more gray hair before our very eyes.
And then, in the midst of the gloom and doom without announcement really, there was suddenly literally an opening, a shift in the force witnessed by all who watched on television or their computers, the roll call for the vote on the debt crisis. There was a flurry around one congresswoman from Arizona who appeared on the floor. Known to us all, she had quietly come with her astronaut husband to the congress floor. It was stated that only Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Wasserman, also of Arizona, were aware she would be coming. To see the response of the congress men and women towards her was to lift the level of humanity right there with the congress and with the nation. Because she couldn’t let her vote on the debt crisis not be represented, Gabby Gifford stood quietly smiling; her injuries having taken a backseat to the issues of the nation in the moment, she raised her hand and waved to the floor of congress as a growing roar of acknowldgement of her presence radiated and filled the room. Right before our eyes, the room began to glow.
Republicans, democrats who seconds before held themselves to harsh polarizations and defense, moved toward her, tears came down the faces of so many. Gabby was a portrait and a reflection of all that is alive and cannot be extinquished regardless of the strife, the acrimony. Her soft strength impacted one and all and many of us at home who happened to be watching found ourselves weeping. Weeping for the celebration of her return to the floor of congress after her life threatening assault, weeping at the miracle of seeing how each congress person around her was no longer their identity, their party position, but a human being rejoicing in the face of the courage and real strength of this delicate and beautiful and unsurmountably present congress woman: Gabby Gifford.
That was a moment, a time to see what we truly value and what really sustains our lives in this moment of truth on the congressional floor. That is who we really are, and she brought the congress and those of us witnessing this experience a return to ourselves. The best part of who we are was alive and responding to the grace and grit of this amazing woman and to the hopes and dreams we all carry, Republican or Democrat.
That is where we come from, that is where we want to go and that is the future we want to create for our country. And each of us, we – like Gabby Gifford – must stand up and show up to make known our intentions to have the congress act coherently and non politically in doing their jobs to resolve and bring through a plan that works for our economy and our country.