Left and Right, Democrats and Republicans, Tea Party advocates and progressives. Who are we? We are humanity fragmented within itself. We are individuals banding together to promote our interests or opinions so that we will prevail over the interests and opinions of others. And who are the "others?" People whose interests and opinions conflict with ours.
Many of us consider ourselves committed to a spiritually-oriented life, whether we are religious, New Age, New Thought or followers of any other spiritual path. Why not then apply our spiritual beliefs to this discussion? Using "God" as a metaphor for higher consciousness, what if we asked God about the budget impasse? What would God say?
Beth: God, what do you have to say about the budget?
God: First I would say, "Let's be silent for a moment and feel our connection, feel our oneness. Let us take in each other's perspectives. Let us consider the good of the whole."
Us: You've got to be kidding, God. Don't give us a moralistic platitude. We're not in the church, mosque or synagogue now. This is the real world. Feeling our connection isn't going to fix the deficit.
God: Without feeling your connection, you will not be able to fix anything.
Us: All right. We'll humor you, God. We are going to enter this political conversation by feeling our oneness. Okay. We are one. We are our brother's keepers. We need to take care of the poor. But let's face facts. We are not talking morality; we're talking economy. Caring for others doesn't mean that we should raise the debt limit to protect people who are unfortunate or aren't able to care for themselves. Of course, we feel compassion for them, but they will just have to rely on themselves or get by with less in order to promote overall fiscal responsibility and economic health. The whole social safety net is counterproductive and out of hand, and only by fixing the economy will we all thrive.
Us: Wait a minute! Your attitude doesn't represent us. We believe that everyone needs to be cared for. Didn't Jesus say, "What you do unto the least of my brethren, you do unto me?" Don't poor kids have the right to good nutrition and education, just like the children of the rich? Aren't there countless people who will be blocked from the American dream without help? And, speaking of the rich, why not tax them more? Aren't they the true welfare recipients? And what about the swollen defense budget?
Us: The rich are the employers who can get the economy going. And, regarding the military, there's way more money going into entitlement programs than defense. Plus we have strategic interests to protect.
Beth: Wait a minute. This just sounds like angry regurgitation of what we already believe. Didn't we say we were going to ask God?
Us: Oh yeah, God. Okay. God? What do you have to say? ... God? God? Where the heck is God?
Beth: I think God said to start with, "Let's be silent for a moment and feel our connection, feel our oneness. Let us take in each other's perspectives. Let us consider the good of the whole." Maybe we should do what God already suggested before asking for more guidance.
Us: I don't get it.
Beth: Well, maybe God is trying to tell us that we're busy polarizing rather than listening to each other to see if there's any truth in one another's views. And maybe we're focusing on our own self-interest, rather than the good of the whole.
Us: I'm caring about others. I'm thinking of the poor.
Us: I'm caring about others. I'm thinking of the economy and what will create jobs.
Beth: Maybe God wants us to start by asking ourselves some questions: What is my thinking about the budget crisis? If I were to get really honest, what are my personal interests or the interests of the group/s I identify with, and how are those interests being expressed by my political stance? Does anyone want to talk about that?
The Radio: Blah, blah, blah ...
Well, I'm game. Why don't we, in fact, take God's advice for a moment and examine ourselves first before we do anything else? Let's ask ourselves some questions:
- Do I have a position on the budget crisis?
- Do I feel threatened by it and, if so, how?
- Am I leaving it for other people to worry about?
- If I have a position, what is it?
- Whose interests am I representing?
- How do I feel when I express this position?
- How do I feel when I sit outside the fray and wait for other people to decide what will happen?
- Can I listen to other people's views without wanting to scream or argue?
- Can I grant them any truth or see any reality in their contentions?
- Have I thought about what is for the highest good of all?
- Can I do that now?
- Do I believe that I have already taken the "godly" position?
- Have I? Or am I actually rationalizing self-interest, ignorance or conformity, all the while hiding behind religion?
Let's get very honest with ourselves. Do any of us really want to bring the budget crisis to God, the source, or whatever we call higher consciousness? Are we willing to take actions that seem to threaten our personal self-interest for the good of the whole?
How much do we truly want to hear higher consciousness when it comes to anything that could threaten our comfort, much less our survival -- how we live, what we eat or drink, how we spend time or money, how we treat one another or whether or not to engage in escapist behavior? Isn't it true that when we turn to God, most of us are asking God to fix our problems rather than to help us become more conscious of what we need to do?
Let's face something else about ourselves: When we listen to political squabbling, and even when we engage in it, do we not often sense an undercurrent of deliberate polarization, demonization and obfuscation? And when we see "compromises" emerging from Congress, don't we often suspect that our representatives have come together for political expediency -- to promote their own careers, interests or backers?
Do we trust others? Probably not. And why should that surprise us? How can we expect our political leaders to be more honest than we are? Or more courageous? Or more willing to serve the whole?
So here's a suggestion for today: Why don't we use the budget crisis to highlight our spiritual crisis, the crisis of our unwillingness to come together, listen to one another and truly seek the highest good of all? And we can address that crisis by honestly answering the questions we have been asked in this blog.
So let's join together today in a spirit of self-examination instead of argument. When you comment on this blog, tell us not what you think about the budget crisis. Share what you are discovering about yourself by answering the questions I asked above.
Just addressing these questions will help us change. We cannot truly solve the budget crisis from the level of consciousness that created it, to paraphrase Albert Einstein. We need to transform collectively, so that we can become the people who can find answers to the social, political and even personal problems whose solutions elude us.
And in the process, we will begin to live in the unity consciousness we crave. Then this crisis will have served us well.
Beth Green has been a spiritual teacher and intuitive counselor since 1980. She's the founder of The Stream spiritual community and co-founder of Consciousness Boot Camp, a powerful new transformational program being launched this fall. Read all her The Huffington Post blogs by clicking on her name above. You may also visit her personal website, Beth's Place. Also, watch a brief video of Beth speaking on" Welcoming Divine Consciousness" by clicking here.