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Alone in the voting booth?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

October 24, 2000



Voting booths are private places. People use them to express opinions and make decisions. For many in this election year in the United States, the most important decision is whom to vote for as president.

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I'm fairly news aware. I listen to daily news, read a couple of papers and a weekly news magazine. But I confess that I can't compute all the data and statistics thrown around. And if it's true that the basic questions in this election are about character and competency, I'm still puzzled. How does one judge those factors with spin artists flooding the media with images about the candidates that may not be entirely connected to the facts?

One day it occurred to me that to make a decision is to make - manufacture or create - something. In elections, that creation is called a choice. Then I realized I wouldn't want to try to create something that important on my own. I needed to pray.

Someone told me once that he didn't want to use up his credit with God by asking for help with the little stuff. He wanted all the points with God he could save up, like unused vacation days, I guess, for the really big issues of life. Maybe that approach makes sense if God is keeping score on a huge tally board.

But to me, God is infinite Love and infinite wisdom. Sunshine may be a good analogy, always radiating light and warmth. We don't use it up by standing in it. And we don't use up God's love and wisdom by relying on them - for anything, big or small. They're always there. We just need to turn to them like someone has to get out of the house to get into the sunshine.

Furthermore, I don't think of God as qualifying our problems. For instance, if I were drowning, I'd sure pray to God for help. So if I could ask for help in a life-threatening situation, it seems reasonable to ask Him for help in more ordinary but important decisions like voting. In fact, to rely on Him for lesser issues strengthens my trust in Him for bigger ones, just as practicing simple scales on a musical instrument enables one to play more difficult pieces.

I've come to see that turning to God for even the little issues of life is a great strength. Call it humility. Not self-doubt or indecision or insecurity, but the strength to let go of even the little tendencies toward believing we have an intelligence of our own. Strength to turn consistently to the source of all intelligence, the divine Mind.

To me, Jesus was the example of this kind of humility - and strength. "I can of mine own self do nothing," he said (John 5:30). I think that "nothing" would include voting. If Jesus let God direct him on how to pay his taxes (see Matt.17:24-27), it seems consistent that he would ask God how to vote.

And God loves all of us so much, He'll tell us. Not everyone who prays will get the same answer. But maybe the answer we get and the candidate we choose is less important than the willingness to trust our decision to God. That may be a microcosm of the larger willingness to trust the whole election to God. How could we better serve our own or our country's interests? As the old spiritual goes, "He's got the whole world in His hands."

When the Old Testament leader Samuel was directed by God to appoint a king for Israel, God gave him the discernment to see in David the qualities that were needed. Samuel was able to see beyond external appearances to the man's heart. When Solomon succeeded David as king, he prayed to God for wisdom, and he was given so much that others recognized it and came to him for it.

I don't think it's out of place to pray in the voting booth. It may be sized for a single person, but there's plenty of room for God there, too. And to the degree that we seek God's guidance, we will individually receive that guidance. It will be good for the nation.

All is under the control

of the one Mind, even God.

Mary Baker Eddy

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society