The challenge for many of us in the financial crisis is to separate facts from predictions and speculations and not to allow ourselves to be pushed into decisions motivated by panic. Sometimes news stories are filled with quotations from "authorities," but it's not clear what basis these statements rest on and which are rooted in facts instead of speculative fears. While some decisions must be made quickly, the advice not to react in haste still has much merit.
At this time we each have the opportunity, if not the duty, to pray that all investors and policymakers be guided by the facts in any situation and not be persuaded by fears. Suggestions of national and even global collapse of a healthy market-driven economy have been voiced. Such speculations must not be mistaken for truth.
In the "Manual of The Mother Church," written by Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who founded the Church and this newspaper, gave this guidance: "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind" (p. 42).
One of the meanings of aggressive is "tending to spread quickly." Certainly in this age of rapid communications, we can quickly discover the truth about many things, but unfortunately speculative suggestions tend to spread even more quickly. Often they induce fear, even if that's not their intended purpose.
Some news media are more willing to spread rumors than facts, and at times reporters and editors may be exploiting news to sell their media. Headlines often induce fear. The body of an article may be more balanced, but too often the entire article is not read or listened to. Prayer is needed that we not be influenced by fear and that we not influence others erroneously.
According to John's Gospel, Christ Jesus promised, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Each of us can rejoice in finding and living the spiritual truths that free us from being influenced by suggestions, no matter how aggressive or insistent they may be.
Jesus' teachings are summed up in "the Sermon on the Mount, " which includes this blessing or beatitude: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6). The implication is, "for they shall be filled with righteousness." By letting our actions be governed by wisdom instead of prejudice or willfulness, we're less vulnerable to the swift spreading of fear-inducing suggestions.
It's comforting to know that those making decisions concerning the future of lending institutions and forming new regulations can be guided by prayers – theirs and ours. It is our privileged duty to defend ourselves and others from swift-moving aggressive mental suggestions that would lead to harmful decisions. More important than trying to figure out what decisions the policymakers should make is prayer that God's will be done. This will bless everyone, and so help free humanity from suggestions of fear, disaster, and other trouble.
As we affirm that God is all-powerful, we can trust this divine Principle to guide all people in this difficult time. Aggressive and slanted reporting, as well as other negative influences, may push us to act hastily, but they will have no influence when our prayers affirm God's control of the economy. This doesn't delay right decisions and actions but assures that they will be a blessing. It prevents mistakes, and answers this petition from the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Aggressive mental suggestions, no matter how quickly they are spreading their conclusions, can never compete with or overthrow divine guidance. Those who must make decisions regarding individual investments, as well as those who are policymakers, will find no hurtful delay by taking time to pray. And those whose decisions relate to how best to weather these financial storms will find their prayers steadying the ship.