A recent monitor headline, "A rising din over Social Security," carried this telling subhead: "Fixing the system has become No. 1 issue, but no consensus exists on the best way" (Dec. 3, pg. 1). The funding crunch is, by most estimates, more than 30 years away, but the opinion crunch is already upon us. The clamor of economists, lobbyists, politicians, and think tankers leaves most of us wondering, Is there hope for inspired reform?
It doesn't pay to be passive about our personal financial security, any more than about our physical security. Common sense says to lock the doors at night (even in my small town), and to invest for future needs. Perhaps like some people today, you also take time regularly to pray for your family's safety and for God's guidance in financial decisionmaking.
When it comes to a megasystem such as the country's Social Security program, however, that may seem like something beyond our control. We may have views about the way it is structured, run, and funded. We may pay into it through taxes, receive benefits, let our legislators know how we feel. But take an active role in shaping it? Isn't that something like trying to help steer a supertanker by putting a finger in the water? You bet, if water (or the human perspective on things) is your medium of action.
Yet every kind of system, be it a mammoth bureaucracy or the body's respiratory system, is first and essentially a mental system - a system composed of thought, an element of consciousness. Christian Science explains that the human body isn't what it appears to be, a material mechanism or a mind/matter mix. Rather, it is the outward expression of one's thoughts and feelings.
Spiritually based health care isn't mere positive thinking. It involves a constant, searching effort to know ourselves as God has made us, to see more daily of the unseen spiritual reality. That's the heart of prayer.
If a healthy body manifests a healthy state of mind, isn't the state of a social system - a body of rules and laws - just as much the product of the thoughts of those thinking about it? Perhaps much more significant than the money we pay into and hope to draw from a social benefit system is the thought we contribute to it. What produces confusion and contention? How about selfishness, resentment, fear, and apathy? Where there is clarity and progress we'll usually find the opposite - gratitude, honesty, calm trust, affection.
Maybe you've seen the effects of these states of thought on a micro level, as I have. A business meeting I was part of was mired in confusion. We could not see a way out. I mentally turned away and prayed. Maybe others did, too. I knew we weren't really a bunch of contentious minds in conflict, but in God's view all the children of the one divine parental Mind. Quite suddenly there was a moment of calm, and one clear idea was presented. Solution found. The agent of change? To me, it was Christ, sought and heard.
When, through the influence of Christ, the moral and spiritual replace the materialistic and mortal - in even one individual's thinking - that one thought helps literally to re-form the system it beholds.
The woman who charged this newspaper 90 years ago "to bless all mankind," Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote: "Every step of progress is a step more spiritual. The great element of reform is not born of human wisdom; it draws not its life from human organizations; rather is it the crumbling away of material elements from reason, the translation of law back to its original language, - Mind, and the final unity between man and God" ("The People's Idea of God," pg. 1).
As I was "praying" my contribution to Social Security reform in America today, I embraced calls for help and reform beyond my own borders. I thought of Russians facing the near collapse of financial and social systems. Of my friends in African countries where the social safety net is still largely the extended family. Of those in other countries where governments are searching for the right balance of private initiative and public services. These, too, have the right to clarity and cohesion.
God, who is both divine Mind and everywhere-present Spirit, supplies both the needed ideas and the energy and courage to move them forward.