A current ad campaign run by the Office of National Drug Control Policy uses the slogan "Above the Influence." In the ads, vignettes show an older boy offering a younger boy some form of drug. When the younger one turns down the offer, the slogan appears on the screen.
This got my attention. We're all used to the phrase " under the influence." So to be above the influence spoke to me of being able to resist temptation and make the right choice. It's a hopeful, heartening message to have on our TV screens, billboards, and magazine pages.
The phrase got me thinking about what it is that enables us to be above the influence. From what I've seen in my life, it's our high status as children of God, having the dominion that He gave us.
Woven into this one phrase, "above the influence," is the truth that we – and specifically in this context, boys and young men – have the wisdom and authority to reject destructive temptations.
Each one of God's children possesses wholesomeness, purity, clarity, strength, courage, and ability. We can all defend these attributes by claiming to be who we are to God: the expression of goodness, sensibility, and morality. Likewise, we can reject the opposite view that we are weak, helpless mortals, tempted on every side and incapable of self-government.
Encouragement to see boys, and for boys to see themselves, as above the influence of evil echoes something Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "To hold yourself superior to sin, because God made you superior to it and governs man, is true wisdom. To fear sin is to misunderstand the power of Love and the divine Science of being in man's relation to God, – to doubt His government and distrust His omnipotent care" (p. 231).
God's care can be described as the influence of Christ, defined by Mrs. Eddy as "the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (p. 332). The Christ is always present, showing God's love for us.
When our son was in grade school, I was called to a parent-teacher conference and told he had behavioral and learning problems. Some underlying issues were voiced during the meeting about boys in general, labeling them as overly active, immature, and disinterested in learning.
The school recommended some invasive testing, which I declined. It was an opportunity to pray to see this child's spiritual nature. I prayed to understand that he was governed by the divine Mind, God.
I spent many days praying in this way. A few months passed, and we were transferred to another country. The interesting outcome was that in this country boys were greatly valued, and our son's education was enormously enhanced. The difficulties fell away completely. I attribute this adjustment to the power of prayer.
Mrs. Eddy wrote: "The grand realism that man is the true image of God, not fallen or inverted, is demonstrated by Christian Science. And because Christ's dear demand, 'Be ye therefore perfect,' is valid, it will be found possible to fulfil it. Then also will it be learned that good is not educed from evil, but comes from the rejection of evil and its modus operandi" ("Christian Science versus Pantheism," pp. 11-12).
Each one of us has the ability to think purely and act responsibly and maturely. And all boys deserve our love. They share with all children the status of God's representatives of joy, clarity, reason, courage, strength, tenderness, and vision. They are indeed, above the influence, and in sync with good.
Thine ears shall hear a word
behind thee, saying, This is the
way, walk ye in it, when ye
turn to the right hand,
and when ye turn to the left.