When heavens rightly align, when perfect temperatures accompany sunshine, we might agree that good people can hold varying opinions. That lasts no longer than our next step: define "rightly," "perfect," and "good." For the U.S. Senate the way out, or around, is "reconciliation," a word of heavy meaning, lightly tossed, often misapplied.
A Russian proverb says: "Even in a quarrel, leave room for reconciliation." That boils down to bringing opposite viewpoints to workable harmony. We hurl irreconcilable differences at spouses in divorce courts. We hit economic doom when government, reflecting the cavalier spirit of many citizens, fails to reconcile outgo with income.
We need fresh training in civics. It feels as if citizenship and government has been reduced to: "If I can't get my own way, I'll make new rules." Legislative reconciliation was introduced in 1974 to block filibusters in the Senate, to streamline the debate and amendment process, mainly budget proposals. If filibustering talks an issue to death, then reconciliation shrinks it to a non-issue to slip past opponents.
Word is that some plot to pass the health care bill by breaking it into two parts. By splitting finance away from the applications section, the money might come (normal passing by Senate and House) without enough accountability for how it's spent (using reconciliation process not requiring majority vote). Legitimate concerns, such as forced taxpayer funding of abortion, could be by-passed.
We haggle over critical needs, but deception misnamed reconciliation won't help. Many fight for or against the idea of global warming and what it means. We label extremists either money-grubbing capitalists or tree-huggers. The bottom line is that we all inhale and exhale about 30,000 times every day and, if we want to keep doing that, we'd better find common ground to protect our environment.
Christians have argued for centuries, such things as who does what, points of doctrine, what "tithe" means and how to spend it. Yet Christendom received a direct injunction through Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18: "Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself...and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him" (Amplified). Harmony with Him when we cannot achieve it among ourselves? Well, yes. He is our glue, strong enough to stick St. Patrick (British), whom we celebrate March 17, into the hearts of his Irish captors.
Being part of the U.S.A. bonds us despite differences. Ancient reconciliation involved ceremonial purification of a consecrated place after an act of desecration. Government needs purifying, but clean up begins within us. Perhaps that's why a 10-foot, 4-ton, chunk of stone, the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, now circling the world on behalf of victims of war and natural disasters, touches non-Buddhists. We need help.
True reconciliation demands unselfishness and honesty to produce peaceful answers, even in healthcare. After all, no real "health" can be achieved unless it transforms body, mind, and spirit.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together - side-by-side.