Fear and the economy

A Christian Science perspective.

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It may be a truism that those who have least to lose are the least fearful. And who hasn’t heard accounts of the most deprived people, especially in developing countries, who are the most ready to share their meager resources with strangers. Their generosity and happiness do not appear to be as conditioned by material circumstances.

Often, though, it seems that the more possessions we have, the more we fear their loss. Many people, in fact, so wed themselves to their goods that they become a part of the person’s identity, and any loss or lack of them induces fear. Such fears intimately connect with the economy because people believe that their livelihoods, incomes, investments, and goods are directly tied to the economy. In fact, the economy itself seems to reflect people’s fears.

With precarious conditions in today’s world economy – especially in the United States and Europe – uncertainties create underlying fears. For anyone who is deep in debt, perhaps with a family and a precarious job position, the economic climate must be unnerving. And my heart goes out to them, for I’ve certainly had my share of tight situations.

But I’ve learned many lessons over the years about managing finances and supply. For one thing, even if things seem dire, there is always a way to move forward successfully. Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve come to understand God as the underlying Principle – called Love – which bases all our activities, including the economy. The operation of this Principle can be likened to the world of mathematics, which is entirely mental, but whose laws and rules are ready to be used wherever we are. As I see it, each individual is intimately connected to Love and the economy it governs because our underlying spiritual nature derives from Love. Over the years, I’ve appreciated this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science: “Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307). I’ve found this to be true in my experience but as with any new concept, we make it our own only by using it.

I remember one instance when I was fresh out of university, just starting a job with the government. My resources were small, and one evening after a running workout in a gym, I discovered that $20 had been stolen from my wallet. I quickly quelled thoughts of resentment and instead began to focus on loving the unknown thief. I felt impelled to see that the inclination to steal was no part of anyone’s actual spiritual nature as created by God, divine Love. The love I had at that point completely flooded my consciousness and served to nullify my fears.

Several days later, I received two unexpected checks in the mail, which more than covered the amount of the loss. It was one of many evidences I’ve had that we cannot lose anything good. To me, this means that there is an idea behind the present material necessities of our lives that is always available to appear in such a form that will meet our need.

A much larger problem occurred several decades later when my wife at the time was facing a situation that threatened bankruptcy. My wife’s previous husband had died, and she was unable to access vital funds to meet the debts and expenses of a jointly owned business. An escalating situation and the collapse of her business impacted our joint financial affairs.

However, all the intricacies involving the various creditors and the problems that occurred along the way were resolved, and over a three-year period she was able to repay an agreed upon portion of the total debt. Fears were removed as we persistently and patiently held to what was actually going on in the divine economy with respect to everyone involved. Also, there was no particular change to our happiness and lifestyle.

Such lessons learned teach us to focus on living our lives courageously, more broadly, and with large doses of love and patience. They teach us gratitude for what we have, lessen our dependence on material possessions, and lessen our fears about conditions that seem to be outside our control. And just like the example presented by some impoverished people, unselfed love blesses all, for it’s unsaddled by limits. It can even help alleviate national and international situations by addressing the greed and selfishness that often underlie financial crises.

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