04/07/2011 02:46 pm ET Updated Jun 07, 2011

The Government Shutdown: We're All In This Together

About a year ago, I started signing off my emails with these words: "we're all in this together." This signature has been my small way to say, "Let's work together -- times are tough, and these tough times demand that we all work together toward for the common good."

And here we are, a year later, and times are even tougher, because the common good is under attack, right under the dome of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

We've got people in Congress threatening to shut down our government to score political points. Thousands of Americans are hanging in the balance -- from hard-working federal employees who won't get paid to people across the country who will lose their jobs as the economy plunges back into recession. Families' livelihoods are at stake here. This is not the time to score political points, but time to do serious problem-solving -- together.

So we need our leaders to step up to the plate with the moral integrity to hold opposites in tension while moving toward creative compromise, for the good of all people. "We're all in this together" means that I recognize the "other" as one like myself, knowing that we all have both our better and our lesser angels, and it takes all of us to build a world of justice, compassion and peace.

As an American, I care about reclaiming our democracy, about holding our elected officials accountable for their commitment to the common good. As a Christian, I care first about those who have least. I can't expect the Congress to share my faith values, but I do know that most Congressional representatives claim some religious affiliation. So I want them to remember that all the great religions of the world hold compassion to be the core of all human interaction. Shutting down the government, punishing innocent families and slashing apart our frayed safety net is far from compassion.

Honestly, sometimes I think the gravest threat to our democracy and to our national decency exists underneath that beautiful dome on Capitol Hill. It is time to restore our democracy, our integrity and our morality. High time.

Originally posted at Faith in Public Life's Preach-a-thon.