When I saw the movie Gravity in 3-D, there was a moment when a tear shed by the main character – Ryan Stone played by Sandra Bullock – appears to float off the screen and into the audience. The tear contains her image. Suppose we live in a world that exits inside the 3-D contours of a universal tear. Tears of sorrow, tears of joy, and praying tears are the stuff of our human connection to each other. The movie is about survival through the seen and unseen cords that keep us from drifting into physical and spiritual oblivion. It is about a return from space to terra firma, to earth.

In the movie, Stone, her in-space colleagues – Matt Kowalski played by George Clooney, and Shariff Dasari played by Paul Sharma– are working outside their spacecraft to make repairs on the Hubble space telescope when a debris storm damages their spacecraft and leaves them in danger of their lives. Dasari is killed immediately. Stone and Kowalski must weigh their options and Stone must summon the will to live. We see the international connections where Russian and Chinese crafts aid in the new mission of survival. Faith represented by an icon of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers and a statue of Buddha, opens a window to transcendence. Faith in an afterlife gives her life sustaining hope.
Life calls to life as she responds to a radio transmission where she hears a human voice, a baby crying, and the ubiquitous barking dog. She howls back. Kowalski gives her courage and bolsters her determination to survive. In this movie the artistic imagination reminds us that we need each other to survive.

That we are connected beings is obvious when we go about our daily lives: a little girl holding her father’s hand in the store, an elder couple walking close to each other, our family and friends surrounding us when a loved one dies or when a couple marries. However, we fail to see how much we are connected through the apparatuses of government until the government shuts down. Research on illnesses; passport renewal; the functions of the Centers for Disease Control; food safety inspections; environmental protection; issuance of various permits all stop. Federal workers, federal contractors and businesses whose clientele is composed of federal workers suffer. And this is the short – very short – list.

At the same time, the possibility of a congressional refusal to raise the country’s debt limit helps us to see how the nations of the world depend upon each other economically. The US dollar is the reserve currency of the world. This means that other governments and institutions hold dollars as a part of their foreign exchange reserves. They do much of their international business in dollars. Confidence in the economic power and stability of the United States is why the dollar is the reserve currency.

The full faith and credit of the United States means that one can know for certain that the United States will pay all of its bills on time, that it will repay its debts. In the event of an inability to repay all the debt obligations faith in the United States can no longer be complete. It is no longer the full faith and credit. We have to begin to think of the sometimes, maybe, if the Congress is not throwing a hissy fit over something faith and credit of the United States. Just the threat of a refusal to raise the debt ceiling causes interest rates to rise. A rise in the interest on the national debt adds to the budget deficit thus defeating the purpose of bringing down the deficit.

When politicians seek to deny this fact and seek to win political advantage by breaking the bonds of good will and comity through zero-sum game brinksmanship, we know they are ignorant of the gravity of their actions. They also demonstrate an ignorance of certain spiritual laws, among them the law of Karma. Karma is the unbreakable correspondence between act and consequence. What we think, say and do brings a corresponding requital in this life or in the next. There is the principle we find in Judaism and in Christianity that one reaps what one sows. The Hebrew prophets taught: “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7)

The Apostle Paul writing in the New Testament says: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever one sows that will s/he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Congressional Republicans sowed discord, division, and disrespect for our president. They have reaped discord, division, and disrespect for their party. They tried to gain an advantage through extortion and gained nothing in return. They have broken faith with the nation and have become untethered from the spiritual laws of survival. Many Republicans are floating in a fact-free space made of their own delusions. And the country pays the price as long as they hold office.

Whether or not the Republican Party has the compassion and the will and the sense to hear life calling to life, whether it has the love to return to terra firma remains to be seen.

Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.


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