Successful negotiations

Opposing opinions seem inevitable in human relationships. Sometimes all attempts at conciliation fail and there's an impasse. We can detour around a few of these impasses, leaving them unresolved, but usually we need to find a solution, preferably one satisfying to all parties.

One couple who owned a business became involved in a long-running controversy with their landlord. Expensive efforts by their lawyer scarcely changed things. The husband, upset, couldn't speak calmly with the landlord, who nevertheless offered several times to ''talk things over.''

The wife, who had taken little part in these negotiations, felt this proffered dialogue opened possibilities. As a Christian Scientist she had been praying for a solution to the controversy, and she now proposed that she should negotiate with the landlord.

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Preparing for the meeting, she assembled a briefcase full of documents. But more important, she organized her thinking. According to Christ Jesus' teaching, she resolved: ''Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.''n1 This calls for a fresh concept of one's apparent antagonist.

n1Matthew 5:44.

Love him? Love him?

This doesn't mean, ''Abandon your convictions and let your opponent walk all over you.'' It does mean substituting love for animosity, revenge, and deceit, which are poor reconciliators.

The businesswoman strove to see the landlord from a Christly point of view, as a loved and loving child of God - not as a hateful adversary.

Peter speaks of our adversary as the devil, who, ''as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.''n2 Couldn't we think of this devil as the false belief that there are many minds, some of them wicked, competing and often working against each other? Christian Science stresses the Biblical truth of one God -- one infinite, perfect Mind -- and man as God's likeness. Our adversary, then, is not really another human whom we must outwit. It's a misconception about God and man.

n2 I Peter 5:8.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, -- that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle.''n3

n3 Science and Health, p. 275.

Christian Science enlarges our understanding of God by using Bible-based synonymous terms for the Supreme Being, such as Spirit, Mind, Love, and Principle. Preparing to confront her landlord, the woman found it helpful to know that God is the only Mind, in spite of devilish suggestions of several conflicting mortal minds. The one Mind is also Love; so whatever ideas proceeded from Mind, she realized, would bless all concerned. An idea emanating from divine Mind wouldn't benefit one party at the expense of the other.

And Mind, Love, is Principle, the source of all true law and justice. The woman and her husband had been unhappy about the injustice of the landlord's demands; and now they prayed, not for any specific resolution, but simply that justice would prevail in a way satisfactory to everyone.

The meeting began with a lengthy rehash of the demands. The woman listened, responded pleasantly, and then made a suggestion not previously proposed. The landlord thought it over and agreed. They shook hands and parted congenially, mutually content.

The Christian Scientist had seen both parties as God's children, subject to the one Mind, Principle, Love. With the belief in a personal adversary and many minds removed, there was no roadblock to a novel solution, and intelligence, justice, and amiability prevailed -- as they can in all negotiations. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye all of one mind having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing. 1 Peter 3:8, 9

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