They're not professional economists. But they speak to us cogently about the global economy. They call out from the frames of our television screens, from the pages of newspapers and magazines. The young mother in Jakarta who can't get food for her toddler. The Moscow laborer who desperately needs to keep his family warm this winter. The inner-city boy who goes to school hungry every morning in Washington, D.C.
The gyrations of the international marketplace - the plunges and rallies of global stock prices, currency values, employment rates - may seem worlds away from these people. Yet economists say all these phenomena are interconnected. They're strands of an economic web called globalization.
Globalization, economists say, is both kind and cruel. It dazzles us with opportunities for technological advancement, industrial expansion, more equitable distribution of wealth, redressing of human rights abuses, even world peace. But it also enmeshes us, they say, in negatives like ecological disruption, exploitation of emerging-nation pools, market volatility, drastic currency devaluations. And that's why, according to this reasoning, roughly a third of the world's citizens are short of money right now.
But there's a kind of currency that never runs short. It holds its value always, for everyone. It's based on a standard more solid than gold: a spiritual standard. This standard places primary value on things like justice, mutual caring, and the equality of all people. Ultimately, this standard gets back to what many call God - and to the laws by which God intelligently directs the universe.
Mary Baker Eddy spent years studying these universal laws, found in the Bible. She compiled this spiritual research in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which identifies the whole system of God's laws as divine Science - or Christian Science. The book explains that applying these laws improves all kinds of situations, including financial ones. In fact, Mrs. Eddy once called Christian Science "the poor man's money" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 252).
Just how do you apply God's laws to economics and globalization? It takes humble prayer, which might include ideas like these:
*Because God is Spirit, and is All, God's creation is actually spiritual. It follows that all God's children are spiritual. And that all resources are spiritual, too.
*God gives these spiritual resources to each one of His children, in totally unlimited ways. No one is left out, ever.
*No matter how capricious global economic forces may seem, they ultimately must submit to God's spiritual resources of good, which enforce their preeminence even in the human marketplace.
*All of us, as God's children, must interact in ways that are mutually beneficial and supportive. We're brothers and sisters. So our natural instinct is to mirror God's spiritual resources - the total generosity - of our divine Parent.
There is admittedly much work still to be done, by each of us, in terms of seeing these spiritual truths play out in today's global marketplace. Yet, around the world, people are finding ways to address urgent economic situations through prayer - through an economics of love and responsible caring. This concept of economics is fueled by what Eddy once called "love currency" (see "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 14).
It will take this kind of currency, a currency of spiritual values, to stabilize our own finances and global finances permanently, and enable world citizens to realize the promise - and subdue the perils - of globalization.
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1