The vote was 3 to 1. I was the "1."
I was at a daily story budget meeting, attended that day by four editors, and the publisher had just walked in. His question was simple: Should he use a derogatory but humorous term for a person he was writing about in an editorial?
The content of the piece dealt with a decision made by a county board that left a man in a job that, for various reasons, he no longer was equipped to handle. The county board, faced with a tight budget, had wrongly opted to retain the man at his minimal salary instead of addressing a personnel problem that would have been costly to fix.
The premise for the editorial was sound, but the derogatory language likely would outrage some readers, and the publisher sought the opinions of other editors.
In recent weeks, I had witnessed the power of being "instant in prayer," of seeking help through prayer at the very moment it's needed. The Bible calls it being "instant in season" (see II Tim. 4:2), a recognition of situations where prayer can provide an answer immediately.
This was one of those situations as I felt the tug of knowing that the use of a derogatory term would be injurious.
God measured my words, I believe, as I began to express my views.
The basic premise of editorial writing is to attack the problem, not the person. This editorial, I said, would be just as valid and possibly more credible if the writer addressed the problems surrounding the county board's decision. The use of derogatory language in print, even if it seems humorous and clever, isn't reason enough to do it.
The decision, not the person, was flawed, I argued, and this editorial could be a powerful statement without resorting to name-calling.
My three co-workers disagreed. They deemed the language funny and on target and an appropriate way to point out this man's apparent failures.
In an instant it occurred to me that in the highest sense of things, there could not truly be a minority viewpoint in this room. I remembered this statement: "One with God is a majority." I realized that quiet, inspired thought could help everyone see clearly what was the right thing to do. If there was a need for different thinking fairer and more compassionate and forgiving then God, the omnipotent Mind, would meet that need.
The publisher thanked us for our opinions, returning to his desk to consider the views expressed.
I was at peace. I had seen Love fill a room with unity, with oneness, even as differing opinions were shared in a calm and orderly fashion. Human will could not and would not make the decision about this editorial. The right action would be taken and the correct decision made.
The editorial ran the following day without any derogatory language.
That morning the publisher came to my desk. "I want to thank you," he said, "for standing your ground yesterday and preventing me from doing something I would have regretted this morning." With that, he shook my hand, smiled, and returned to his office.
Standing one's ground is simple, because it's ground worked and made fertile by many before us groundbreakers such as the Apostle Paul, who spoke of being "instant in prayer" (see Rom. 12:12).
That quick understanding of the willingness and the readiness of God, the divine intelligence, to be right here and ready to help with what looked like a hopeless situation is more necessary than the briefcases we carry to work. That understanding awakens us anew in an instant, in every season.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Whatever is governed by God, is never for an instant deprived of the light and might of intelligence and Life" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 215).
Words whether written or spoken can be governed by God and full of light and might. Surely, God, the one infinite Mind, influenced the writing of that editorial. What was deemed worthy was kept; what was seen as injurious was omitted.
Each day in our workplaces there are opportunities to watch Mind set aright what could be damaging. If we act with instant, silent prayer, holding fast to Truth, we will see its results.