'Fiscal cliffs' and debt ceilings: learning lessons

A Christian Science perspective.

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We cannot make light of a situation where decisions will have an effect on every man, woman, and child for some time to come. And when we hear news about the 'fiscal cliff' – about play-by-play announcements of negotiations hitting a wall, 11th-hour offers and counteroffers, huddles in back rooms, and late-breaking demands to make these decisions, it is hard not to be concerned.

Amid these weighty matters, I am reminded of scenes from the well-known film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It depicts a town’s prosperity that was based on sacrifice of self and support for the community through desperate and failing times. The main character was deemed the “richest man in town” because he was the one who had the most friends as a result of putting his care of others ahead of himself. The movie shows how those same friends saved him from a desperate financial situation during the Great Depression. While not a true story, it depicts a quality of reality in life with the truth it conveys. Perhaps this film can provide intelligent and thoughtful reminders in our time as well.

The biblical injunction, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45:22), suggests a beneficial result when we collectively, as a community, look higher than the collective challenge. Sacrificing a “looking out for ourselves” attitude can bring a stronger ability for the community to face the challenge and see it through to victory. But that’s easier said than done. How does the individual obtain the courage to follow through? Looking to God is a deep and conscientious humble prayer of listening. This kind of prayer is able to bring courage, as well as inspired and unlimited ideas that supply each one of us.

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If world governments and their people were to model after the divine economy, they would be evidencing God’s power, which governs harmoniously. This “evidence” is thoughts and deeds expressing spiritual qualities such as honesty, integrity, forgiveness, humility, mercy, loving one’s neighbor as oneself, and these qualities have their source in God, divine Love, one of the scriptural names for Him. We can look to divine Love in our prayers to know that greed, gridlock, and indecision do not have power, but God, divine intelligence, governs His creation, man and the universe. We can look to and trust divine Love to influence hearts, including our own, to inspire, guide, and lift each heart to do Love’s will, which does not leave a single man, woman, or child outside God’s care.

Has the wrong decision been made? Is the decision egregious to fairness and equitable treatment? Does it lack the solution needed to eliminate the problem? The infinite nature of divine Love is ever to be with its creation, never fatigued or weary in impelling its own right and intelligent action. Step-by-step progress in our governments and in our individual lives comes from sacrificing those thoughts and actions that do not express divine Love but hold us in a limited and self-focused oriented living, which is always a downward hill. We can love taking each prayerful step needed with patience because of its promise of progress. We can keep praying without any sense of weariness, until the challenge is fully met.

A hymn speaks of divine Love’s action:

O Love divine, whose constant beam
Shines on the eyes that will not see,
And waits to bless us while we dream,
Nor leav’st us though we turn from Thee.

                         (John Greenleaf Whittier, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 229).

Separate from partisan politics, our leaders, citizens, and government workers can be touched by the divine influence that speaks to each heart. It “shines on the eyes that will not see” to melt human will, misunderstandings, pride – including ours. Listening, willing to do Love’s will, we all become part of the solution to make a progressive path for our nation and world.

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