Renaming the unemployment picture

A Christian Science perspective.

While the numbers send a mixed message, the reasons for hope are real. The overall unemployment rate in the US has dropped slightly. Recently it edged down to a still-high almost 10 percent. Consumer sentiment is slowly creeping into positive territory. Lines at unemployment offices remain long, but are no longer growing at the pace they once did.

Hispanics, however, face an unemployment rate of over 13 percent and for blacks, it’s close to 16 percent. Younger minorities face the harshest numbers of all. Unemployment of young Hispanics (aged 16 to 24) now tops 21 percent, and for young African-American men the rate is over 34 percent.

One story repeats itself far too often. And it begins with one’s name. In a study reported by MSNBC.com., researchers at the University of Chicago and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that job seekers with ethnic-sounding names were less likely to be called in for an interview, regardless of their qualifications. Simply because of their name.

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There’s much that can be and is being done to lower the barriers confronting job seekers. Perhaps most notable are job training programs that develop new skills. But one’s most valuable assets are the spiritual resources we’re each uniquely equipped with. These help to turn around a harsh unemployment scene and highlight hope.

Consider possible prejudice against one’s name. Then recall how Christ Jesus once directed his followers to “rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Think of that! It is a directive straight from God, delivered by the Christ to each one of God’s loved sons and daughters. It is a powerful, game-changing fact. To realize that one’s name – one’s individual, spiritual nature – is truly written in heaven is to grasp that one’s nature is known to the heavenly Father. He cherishes it. He cherishes you. You, your name, your talents and abilities, your whole being are above the reach of human prejudice.

The Father maintains each individual at the standpoint of usefulness. God-derived abilities help fit everyone for productivity in the workplace. Every glimpse of this is powerful prayer. To engage in such prayer is to draw a bit closer to the God’s-eye view of the scene. He beholds the wonderful promise He built into each individual. To see oneself or to see other job seekers from His vantage point is to glimpse that wonderful promise. The truth is, we not only embody His promise; we also bear His name. Holding to this fact in prayer makes it easier for an employer to see a job candidate not as a bundle of potential problems but as a bundle of promise, perhaps ready to fulfill the needs of a specific position.

Since every individual already has spiritual talents, it’s a matter of bringing them to light on the human scene. Sometimes job training helps with this. Sometimes it’s a matter of simply recognizing that what looks like a negative is actually a positive. For instance, a job seeker may sport a minority-sounding last name. But because of their background, they may also be bilingual. A clear job-getting plus.

There’s a divine law – a Science – that discloses in each one of us the capacity to achieve measureless good. If people doubt their ability to accomplish good, they may hold back. But trust the God-given ability for successful accomplishment, and that individual is ready to soar. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christianity, once wrote, “Science reveals the possibility of achieving all good, and sets mortals at work to discover what God has already done; but distrust of one’s ability to gain the goodness desired and to bring out better and higher results, often hampers the trial of one’s wings and ensures failure at the outset” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 260).

As you discern your genuine spiritual name and nature, it dawns on you what you really have to give. Where you can give it – in a particular job, for example – naturally falls into place. The challenges that perhaps once loomed so mountainous no longer appear that intimidating. What you have to contribute to the workplace no longer appears so modest. Barriers fall. The way forward comes into focus.

Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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