“Whom can we trust nowadays?” is a common refrain.
Over several years, people’s trust in politicians and government officials, corporate executives, and others in the public eye, seems to have lessened. There is a variety of reasons for this. Allegations of adultery have damaged the reputations of leading politicians. And there have been charges of corruption and poor decisionmaking, as well as accusations concerning irresponsible use of public funds. As the Monitor's investigative report shows, in various countries including the United States, there is reason to doubt the integrity of some of the deals offered to individuals and organizations endeavoring to compensate for their use of carbon-emitting fuels by purchasing offsets.
Getting mad at those who abuse the trust invested in them is tempting, but anger cannot help one to see solutions. I found this out when I was working at a company that was underreporting profits because it was paid in cash for some jobs and didn’t record that income. I did get mad. And I spoke my mind. To no avail.
Then I did something different. I got quiet one night and prayed. That is, I got mentally still, and instead of seething, I tried to listen for inspiration I felt sure would be coming to me from God.
My prayer wasn’t asking God to do something. It was bringing my thoughts to God so that I could see the situation from a more spiritual viewpoint. This can involve reading the Bible to see how spiritually minded individuals have dealt with similar issues over the centuries. And it can include studying a book called “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” written by another spiritually minded individual, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science.
As I listened in prayer that evening, something very specific came to mind. Science and Health pinpoints the word “Principle” as a synonym by which to understand the nature of God. That night it occurred to me that there is a difference between leaning in trust on the divine Principle, God, and trusting in people’s personal principles. The latter are important, and often constructive, but they don’t have the universal consistency of the former.
As the Bible puts it, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Ps. 118:9). I decided to “trust in” divine Principle to resolve the problem rather than to “put confidence in” my own or others’ principles.
The next day, one of the managers demanded that the company stop the practice of underreporting. His reasoning may have been different from mine; his concern was the resulting false picture of the company’s profitability. But the outcome was the same.
It is right to expect integrity of individuals and institutions, and it is right that checks and balances should be in place to help ensure that. But we can always pray, too, to get a clearer view of the spiritual idea that divine Principle, God, has a controlling interest in all commercial and political activity. Principle’s influence is always to impel individual and collective integrity of thought and action.
To the degree that we perceive this in prayer, we can help bring it about in practice.