Third-World Debt and Forgiveness

HEAVILY indebted nations are seeking relief from payments on foreign loans. Lender nations are asking that debtor countries adopt economic austerity measures to allow for payments of interest. Forgiveness of some debt is being considered. The heavy debt burden has depressed economic growth in debtor countries, with one tragic result being that in some cases essential programs are being cut that provide aid to children. Lenders face the prospect that the very austerity measures they seek could provoke social unrest, threatening the stability of debtor governments.

Where is the way to a solution? Can we help?

Facing an impasse in personal relationships, many individuals have found that forgiveness contributes powerfully to moving things off dead center -- not monetary forgiveness (though that could enter in), but giving up combative, negative views of one another.

A man was pressed by belligerent relatives to sign over to them, for a token amount, his legal right to valuable shared property. Startled and dismayed at the relatives' insistence, the man recalled the priority Christ Jesus placed on forgiveness. He had told his followers to forgive not once or seven times but as often as necessary: ``Until seventy times seven.''1

Forgiveness came as the man realized through prayer that belligerence, being unlike God, Love, must express a false view of man, who is in truth God's spiritual likeness. Valuing the good care the relatives had given the property, he willingly signed over to them his right. And over the years, friendship with the relatives grew.

Might not this small experience point to the promise for good that forgiveness can bring to the much larger issue of relations among nations? Forgiving -- giving up harmful views of those we encounter daily and those we learn about through the media -- witnesses to something of divine Love's all-power.

Who, though, has not at one time or another gritted his teeth at the prospect of needing to forgive? To the human mind forgiveness is hard, because hurts and errors seem to be solid reality. For example, some one or some group may have been intransigent or unreasonable.

The Apostle Paul said that in order to expe-rience the peace and harmony that God's law brings, we must be ``spiritually minded.''2 He urged Christians, ``Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.''3

The mind of Christ is ever-present divine Mind -- God, Spirit -- which Jesus so fully expressed, showing that man, as God's offspring, reflects this one perfect Mind. In absolute truth, then, man can only be spiritually-minded.

To the degree that we understand this truth and conform our thoughts and actions to it, we can see negative views of others for what they really are: distortions of the truth that man reflects God's grace and goodness. Replacing the false views with what is true, we can forgive others.

Such forgiving isn't naive, nor is it superficial. The love needed to obey Jesus' command to forgive could only come from the heart and have its source in God.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: `Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.'''4

Praying to support productive international negotiations, we can overcome step by step the negative view of conflicting human wills by confronting it with the truth that in divine reality man is governed only by the will of Spirit, which unfolds God's equitable law of good for His universal family. Accepting the supremacy of God's law, we can glimpse more of the truth of divine economy: that lack is inconsistent with God's allness and that Mind's infinite wisdom is a spiritual resource ever available to man. We can realize that man, reflecting divine intelligence, is motivated by wisdom and integrity, not fear or greed.

And the children? Why not nourish the true view of their inviolate spiritual identity, their security as God's offspring? Let's love them with the spiritual conviction that not one can be outside God's great love. This is not to ignore their situation but to help bring healing to it.

Progress is appearing. Creative debt-relief plans are being offered, and some are in place.

In divine reality there are no first-, second-, or third-world labels; no haves or have-nots. We aren't obliged to conform unthinkingly to these restricting material views, no matter how widely held they may be. Spiritual-mindedness, man's true heritage, enables us to forgive this false view of man -- to give it up and replace it with the spiritual fact that man is complete through the endowment of God's wisdom and love.

Living more fully this Christly forgiveness, we understand better that the only and ultimate authority over man is God's law of love.

1Matthew 18:22. 2Romans 8:6. 3Philippians 2:5. 4Science and Health, p. 276.

BIBLE VERSE: Put on...bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any. Colossians 3:12, 13

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