Opinion: The eclipse reveals an allegory about the current political life of Congress

The moon covers the sun during a total solar eclipse, as seen from Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, April 8.

The moon covers the sun during a total solar eclipse, as seen from Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, April 8. LM Otero/ AP


Published: 04-20-2024 6:30 AM

John Buttrick writes from his Vermont Folk Rocker in his Concord home, Minds Crossing. He can be reached at johndbuttrick@gmail.com

I’ve been angry and fearful watching the antics of Congress, particularly within the House of Representatives. Many proposed actions are blocked by a minority of representatives, which flies in the face of effective politics that are empathetic toward the welfare of all human beings. For example, arrogance, mean-spiritedness, and support for the ultra-wealthy are motivating several legislators to block votes on a proposal to give military financial aid to Ukraine and also, to move on a new policy for the administration of the U.S. borders.

Watching the total eclipse of the sun with my family was an allegory exposing a world devoid of any effective movement or concern for human life. For the three minutes of the full eclipse, we experienced a cold, colorless, silent land of dusky shadows. A tiny moon was able to obscure the giant sun that sustains life on our planet. The galaxy and the cosmos exhibited no empathy! The earth had no vote.

For three short minutes, we were earthlings cut off from our sole source of life-sustaining light and energy. Only a thin halo of light around the moon prevented complete and total darkness. For one hundred and eighty seconds the moon disrupted the dependable twenty-four-hour cycle of day and night. It perplexed the lives of animals who hunt or hide when it’s light or dark, according to their natures. It disrupted the lives of plants that thrive in the daylight and rest at night. Also, for us humans, it became a mystical experience. As the total eclipse rescinded, we witnessed eight hawks materialize from the horizon to glide and circle overhead, catching the thermals and then slowly soaring toward the emerging sun in the west.

This eclipse has given us an allegory in which to describe the current political life of Congress. It is easy to understand the Freedom Caucus of the Republican party as eclipsing democratic actions of Congress. Catie Edmondson, reporting for the New York Times, observes that Trump and the Freedom Caucus have “always been destructive in nature…. blocking things from happening rather than… building consensus…. Many in the Freedom Caucus, are averse to voting for anything that can be signed into law by a Democratic president.”

Representative Troy Nehls of Texas, a Republican, said on CNN this past week, “The Lord Jesus himself could not manage the (The House Republican Conference).”

It seems, the actions of the Republican Freedom Caucus may be exposed by the allegorical event of the tiny moon obstructing the light of the sun. Like that self-important moon, the picayune Freedom Caucus is living in a moment of time in which it is able to block the energy and ideals of a democratic nation for its own aggrandizement. However, there is more to the allegory than one small moon covering the majestic sun.

Even when fully eclipsed, some dim sunlight leaked around the circumference of the moon. Also, the gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear forces of the cosmos inevitably moved the earth, moon, and sun, to end the three-minute total eclipse. The mysterious eight hawks materializing overhead predicted the return of sunny days. That is, the Freedom Caucus has had its day and the forces of empathy, life, and liberty will again influence democracy and will soon become the order of the nation.

The eclipse, from beginning to end, tells an allegory revealing that humans can survive even a full eclipse of the forces that sustain a peaceful and just life for human beings. The forces of human survival cannot be blotted out, as long as they are kept in motion. Ben Franklin had a key insight. Exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Those eight hawks flying toward the emerging sun complete the allegory. Leave behind the likes of Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus. If we keep moving. Follow those hawks. New and effective ways of relating to each other and the way we govern our nation will be discovered and accompany us into the future. Creation has spoken.