IT'S natural to support wise efforts to help humanity meet its health-care needs. And one of the best ways to do this--though it might not seem obvious--is to understand the relationship between how we think and act and humanity's health-care challenges.
This connection is already somewhat recognized. We're hearing more and more, for example, about the importance of considering the consequences of actions--taking responsibility for our health by forgoing unhealthy lifestyles, for instance. The president of the Columbia University Center on Addiction and Drug Abuse, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., called substance abuse ``public health enemy number one in America.'' He included alcohol and tobacco, as well as illegal drugs, as abused substances.
This certainly suggests that right thinking and acting have a direct bearing on our well-being. Ultimately what's needed is a willingness not only to conform our thoughts and lives more consistently to divine law but to look to a higher source for our care, as well. We need to look to Spirit, God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful.
What are the issues underlying humanity's health-care problems? Don't they include the notion that there is another power than infinite good, God? That man is a physical, sensual creature? That man is vulnerable to evil and separate from an all-loving creator? These beliefs may seem to be reality. But spiritual perception helps us to see them as impositions, not facts. The need is to recognize God as the only Principle governing the universe, including man, and to discern the true nature of man as God's spiritual offspring.
A central message of the Bible is that God is good and that man is something far better than he can seem to be. Weren't Christ Jesus' healing works the outcome of the Bible's higher conception of God and man? The Scriptures say, ``We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord'' (II Corinthians 3:18). Doesn't this point to man's pure, spiritual selfhood?
What we are and are not understanding of God and man, and practicing in our daily lives, directly affects us. Thought more in accord with the purity of Spirit provides a defense against the onslaughts of mortal existence. Putting into practice our highest sense of morality, in accord with divine law, can't help bringing about increased well-being. As we live more honestly, dishonesty and carelessness must lessen. As we practice brotherly kindness, rigidity and self-interest must diminish. Expressing qualities such as integrity and love, which are inherent in man's true identity as God's child, brings us into accord with the purifying, healing power of divine Principle, Love, which is supreme.
When Jesus healed the palsied man, he said, ``Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?'' (Luke 5:23) The Master showed that divine Love's salvation is complete, including redemption from sickness and death as well as from sin. And he taught that we experience this salvation to the degree that we purify our thoughts and lives--expressing more of the divine nature and yielding more fully to the impartial, good will of our Father, God. The basis for this work, however, is the liberating truth that man's real being is now and forever perfect, sinless. Purity, then, is natural to us; it's not foreign to our nature.
One passage from the New Testament seems to sum up a vital role we each have in caring for our health. If we were only to take its message more seriously, we would surely demonstrate it more consistently: ``To be spiritually minded is life and peace'' (Romans 8:6).
As we live up to our highest sense of right, following Spirit's precepts to the best of our ability, we are progressively depending less on matter and more on God. Worshiping more fully the one Spirit, God, we become more receptive to God's perfect care for every aspect of our lives, including our health. We recognize more clearly that matter, being the opposite of ever-present, almighty Spirit, has no authority or intelligence to dictate our well-being or to define who we are. We come to see that health is actually a spiritual quality maintained by God.
As we see the connection between how we think and behave, and our well-being, we find more dominion. We are less likely to feel confused by material conditions or hopeless before them. We see that there is something we can do and that it will make a difference for the better. We can turn resolutely from the false, material picture to the law of Spirit and to the reality of man's being as Spirit's cherished likeness. And we can obey God's commands more fully.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, writes: ``Being is holiness, harmony, immortality. It is already proved that a knowledge of this, even in small degree, will uplift the physical and moral standard of mortals, will increase longevity, will purify and elevate character. Thus progress will finally destroy all error, and bring immortality to light'' (p. 492).
Humanity's health-care needs are great. It is right that people be relieved of suffering, that they not be drained of their resources, that we help each other lift unjust burdens. How important, then, to accept our individual responsibility progressively to purify our thought and behavior. The divine influence of the Christ, Truth, is always leading us to live in accord with our true, spiritual selfhood. Obeying God's law, we inevitably help bring into view the creator's loving care for His children.