Countering negativity in political campaigns
A Christian Science perspective.
Electing a president and Congress is perhaps the most consequential political step Americans take. A campaign should help voters make genuinely informed choices. Yet 50 percent of Americans already say the campaign has been too negative. Ad trackers confirm that perception, finding that 72 percent of political ads thus far have been negative – and nastier than in the past. In addition, falsehoods about candidates’ pasts and policies circulate widely online and in e-mails, misleading those who take them in.Skip to next paragraph
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Nothing should prevent candidates from making the best case for themselves, presenting their experience and positions and pointing out distinctions between themselves and other candidates. But deliberate misrepresentation and the use of inflammatory language run contrary to basic moral principles: Do not bear false witness; do not steal; do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Is that too much to expect of politics?
For some, politics is a tough business that requires “the low road” to achieve success. But Christian Science offers a very different perspective. “Whatever brings into human thought or action an element opposed to Love, is never requisite, never a necessity, and is not sanctioned by the law of God, the law of Love,” writes its founder, Mary Baker Eddy (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” pp. 278-279).
The truth is there are not two realities, one righteous and one corrupt. There is one Life governed by just and ever-operative divine laws, which, when applied, harmonize and redeem human experience.
Mrs. Eddy saw her revelation of these laws as providing the means to help “take away the sins of the world” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 150). She envisioned that each upright individual would be a “public-spirited citizen” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 147).
Through wholehearted devotion to the supremacy of divine Mind, which governs all and expresses itself perpetually in individual consciousness, it’s possible to change the current atmosphere for the better. A deeper understanding of omniactive Mind, which sheds only light, no darkness; which expresses only truth, no lies; which unfolds only good, no evil, will help to bring that true sense of government to light right now.
It will also help us dismiss negative advertising that is built on a belief that people’s thoughts and emotions can be manipulated by fear or falsehood. As God’s likeness, each of us reflects Mind’s perceptiveness. We can see and value the true, detect and reject the false. Each of us can rejoice in the integrity of everyone’s spiritual nature. “Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help,” Eddy says without hesitation (Science and Health, p. 453).
Claiming our inalienable rights of “self-government, reason, and conscience” (Science and Health, p. 106), we can’t be robbed of the ability to think and act from divine Principle. Truth and Love are the true motivators, not personal ambition, animosity, or self-interest.
Most citizens yearn for politics based on an honest and respectful search for the common good. We can support this desire through joyous, unceasing prayer. This demands active receptivity to spiritual truth. It may also call for watchfulness to detect any tendency to let others think for us, or let subtle ideology trump our openness to the facts. We may need moral courage on occasion to speak up on behalf of truth.
At such a tumultuous time, our prayers are not just a drop in the bucket. Those committed to Truth are aligning themselves with omnipotence. “Truth is an alterative in the entire system, and can make it ‘every whit whole,’ ” says Science and Health (p. 371). Each prayer we offer can be part of that journey toward wholeness.
From the Christian Science Sentinel.
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