Faced with a difficult question, a contestant on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" is allowed to use what's called a "50/50 lifeline." This option eliminates two of the four multiple-choice answers, thereby (in theory) making it easier for him or her to choose the correct answer. Often, however, the remaining answers are the two that the contestant - and the tag-along home viewer - was already trying to choose between.
This phenomenon is standard practice in multiple-choice exams. Test-makers intentionally make one of the incorrect answers especially attractive in order to distract people from the right answer. This tantalizingly incorrect answer is called the attractive distracter.
People have always faced various kinds of real-life attractive distracters. Over 1,700 years before the birth of Christ, for example, a man named Joseph was propositioned by his boss's wife. But his love for God and his loyalty to his boss were so solid and pure that he didn't give in to something that would have ruined his career and self-respect. He knew the right answer: Walk away.
Jesus was tempted by the chance to rule the world if he'd forsake God. But he was too intelligent to be distracted by evil. He knew that the divine Spirit of the universe was the only power over all. He had the moral strength to reject pride and selfishness in no uncertain terms. He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8).
Fortunately, everyone has this same innate intelligence, purity, and authority. God has given us His spirit, and the ability to make the right choice in any situation. Contrary to appearances, our true identity is spiritual, like God. We are grand divine ideas of the Mind of the universe, which designs and maintains us. Our Mother and Father, God, is the source of our intelligence. We can't be confused, misled, or distracted from doing the right thing when we become aligned with Her/Him.
Interestingly enough, the word intelligence comes from two Latin words meaning "to choose between" (inter + legere). So you could say that intelligence is basically the ability to choose between what's right and what isn't. It's reassuring and empowering to know that Mind has given us the intelligence to see right through life's various attractive distracters. We can correctly make all the decisions required of us each day with God's help.
An incident on May 4, which was the National Day of Prayer, proved to me that what we've been talking about here is practical. A bird flew into my house through a large open doorway. After many failed attempts to escape through the fixed-glass windows in the room, she came to rest on a windowsill just above the door - only two inches from freedom. My efforts at sweet-talking and gently shooing her out proved futile. I realized that she was unable to distinguish between the glass and the open air. They looked identical to her. The glass was functioning as a sort of attractive distracter, imprisoning her.
Concerned about the bird, I prayed for her. I asked God to show me what to do to help. I considered that not one of God's creatures could ever be fooled, confused, or trapped. This bird was the brilliant essence of innocence and freedom, and she was absolutely governed, without interference, by Mind. I wasn't powerless, for prayer would transform the situation.
Sure enough, my fear lifted. And the bird flew out the door to safety.
Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, wrote: "There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit. The pointing of the needle to the pole symbolizes this all-embracing power or the attraction of God, divine Mind" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 102). I think that little bird felt this attraction. The natural impulsion of divine intelligence enabled her to find freedom.
If you're facing a dilemma, or if you're taking an exam, you can feel God with you. This will allow you to master the situation and will set you free. Intelligence, intuition, insight, courage, purity, humility, excellence, integrity, security, health, mercy, hope, forgiveness, brilliance, love, peace, knowledge, strength - these are the only kinds of attractions. And you can't be distracted from them.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society