Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Mea Culpa and A Holy Instant

Early this week a good friend in my neighborhood sent me an email with some rather funny political messages, but he prefaced his email with the following: I just hope God isn't too ashamed of us for taking away so many of the incentives that drove people to make this country great and for us allowing our government to spend over 16 trillion dollars of our children and grand children's money to (for the most part) try to help people [who are] too irresponsible to provide for themselves or their future.”
I responded with:
I cannot disagree with our enormous amount of debt - but I take issue that most of our debt is because of our entitlement payments to the poor / disadvantaged who are "mainly irresponsible".
In terms of real dollars, the reason for 1/4  ($4T) of our $16T debt are the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan – both of which were funded on the Government's credit card during Bush-II's administration, while kept off the books as a "special expenditure" so the Congressional Budget Office wouldn't have to analyze its effect. A second reason for the debt was the size of Bush-II's tax cuts (at the same time as the off-the-books- funding of the wars) - estimated cost (in terms of lost revenue): $1T. The third reason is the nearly $1T in Bush-II's TARP bailout of banks and Wall Street. The fourth cause of the debt is the continuing entitlement programs we allow big corporations (especially Big Oil) and huge loopholes for financial institutions  and corporations  - which has been estimated at almost $1T (in lost tax revenue) over the last decade. All this totals to about $7T. So, without all those financial fiascos, our enormous debt would be only about $9T. Still big, but manageable.
I do not remember any GOP member of Congress complaining about all this debt (and lost revenue) they racked up under Bush, until Obama was elected. He simply - in the name of transparency - put the cost of the wars and the cost of TARP formally "on the books." As soon as he did that, that's all the GOP could talk about - how Obama was spending us into oblivion. Unfortunately, most of us have bought their argument.
The cost of entitlements to the poor amount to very little of our actual budget. The cost of Social Security is also not part of our budget - it's separately funded. The cost of Medicare/Medicaid is the biggest budget-eater because of the constant inflation of the health care sector - which, since ObamaCare, has had the slowest rate of growth in 2011 since they began keeping records.
Thought you might like another perspective on this.
At first I felt pretty good about my response. But soon afterwards – maybe 45 minutes – I began having these sneaky little twinges that I couldn’t really identify, but they left me with a hollow feeling in my gut. Then they’d go away. At the most illogical times, that twinge and the corresponding bad, sinking feeling would make its reappearance. This pattern continued for about a day and a half.
In short, I had responded from my anger to someone’s fear. My anger is simply another form of fear. Even though I had edited my comments to be as straightforward and non-inflammatory as I could, I was responding to my perception of people whose life-view appeared to be filled with bigotry.
As a teenager in Texas, I took great affront at the rampant prejudice toward blacks in my small hometown – even to the point of near fistfights at times. This week I felt the same as I had in high school: angry, righteous, protecting the underdog, demonstrating my moral superiority. The fact remained, however, I had responded to someone’s fear with my anger. As far as the Course in Miracles (ACIM) is concerned, the feelings of fear and anger are the same thing. I was, in fact, being no different than my neighbor.
The next day, at our weekly ACIM meeting, we read the following: “Watch your mind carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done by your feelings, for this is the one right use of judgment.” [Txt; 4, IV, 5-6]
So, after a day and a half of having feelings aroused by these anonymous “twinges,” being reminded of my 10th Step training, and after going to my ACIM meeting, I called my neighbor to apologize. He was very gracious. He told me he hadn’t interpreted my message as some condescending, holier-than-thou” rant. Rather, he said, it contained information he hadn’t considered before and it had given him pause to think. He then went on and chatted about how some of his golfing buddies railed and ranted on and on about Obama, the debt, the coming socialism, and the greedy poor, blacks and other minorities. He thanked me for calling and wished more people would be as thoughtful and considerate. I thanked him.
I felt good that I had called. I believe my neighbor and I are closer now – more as honest friends, rather than just neighbors.
I believe these anonymous twinge-thoughts were the whispers of my Holy Spirit. I believe what I had experienced was a small Holy Instant: The coming together of two people where the veils of ego were brushed aside and the two of us saw each other in love and respect and in the Now.
An accepted definition of a Holy Instant (from Robert Perry’s Glossary of Terms from A Course in Miracles) is: “A moment in which we temporarily set aside the past and enter into the present, in which we momentarily transcend identification with illusions and recognize what is real…. This allows our minds to be still and shift into another state of mind.” P. 48
From this month’s Holy Encounter Magazine, Miracle Distribution Center, January/February 2013, p, 14.  “When we encounter a fearful situation, the Course encourages us: ‘Peace be to my mind, let all my thoughts be still.’ It says to quiet your mind … because the answer is always right in front of you. Peace is always a part of you! All we need to do is embrace any situation in which we find ourselves and let God do the rest.”  
In my case, I just needed to heed the whispers of my Holy Spirit – my twinge-thoughts. God was dealing with my neighbor.
By the way, I have had no more “twinges” since the call.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2 January, 2013
Copyright, 2013

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