Freedom to change course

A Christian Science perspective: It’s vital that everyone be free to set aside preconceived plans and personal views when fresh insights have come to light that point to a very different course.

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Is it OK to change your course completely, when you have been strongly committed to an opposite one? It used to be jokingly said that it was a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.

Many years ago I said yes to a proposal of marriage. My parents were mightily impressed with this young man and I was at least momentarily dazzled by the prospect of marriage. Then, more sober reflection and specific events began to put that commitment on shaky ground. It was becoming clear to me that we really weren’t meant for each other. But how was I going to tell my parents?  My friends? The fellow himself?

I struggled immensely over this and even considered marrying him anyway since, after all, I had enthusiastically and publicly said I would. Fortunately, for both of us, wisdom prevailed when one friend who knew of my struggle quietly but firmly said to me, “If you marry that man, I won’t come to your wedding.” That broke the stranglehold I’d found myself in. The engagement was ended peacefully. My parents and friends were all fine. I have no doubt the young man was fine, too. I wasn’t just having “cold feet.” As events unfolded, it was clear that the wisdom that comes from God, from right thinking and right acting, led to a complete reversal of the decision and, in turn, to the best course of action for all involved.

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But what if you’re the leader of a nation, whether a man or a woman? Must you stick to a course simply because you’ve publicly proclaimed or privately determined a certain course of action? The public can hold a leader’s feet to the fire by criticizing even the slightest move away from statements that leader has made about a course of action.

A classic article on Christian Science titled “God’s Law of Adjustment,” by Adam H. Dickey, talks about how Christian Scientists are sometimes accused of being changeable. It occurred to me that what the writer was saying about Christian Scientists could be applied to any leader of any nation in the world. This is how it would go: “[Leaders] are sometimes accused of being changeable. What if they are, if it is always God that changes them? Is a [leader] any less a [leader] because he changes his views of things? Is a general less fit to lead his army because in the heat of battle he changes his tactics under the guidance of wisdom? A too determined sense of carrying out a preconceived plan is more likely to be the enthronement of erring human will.”

The article goes on to describe what Christian Scientists are, but I turned it into a hope and prayer we can have for all leaders of all nations and made it read like this: “[Leaders] are minutemen, armed and equipped to respond to any call of wisdom, always ready and willing to abandon personal views or opinions, and to allow that Mind to be in them ‘which was also in Christ Jesus.’ ” 

Certainly there are times when the best course of action is to stick to a course that feels very right and that the wisdom of divine Mind – the Mind that always knows the course that will reap the biggest blessings for all – has pointed out. Yet, for our dear world’s sake, it’s vital that any leader be free to set aside preconceived plans and personal views when fresh insights have come to light that point to a very different course. And it’s just as vital that our prayer for all leaders and all nations, all humanity really, be that that divine Mind be in them “which was also in Christ Jesus.” Such prayer honors and strengthens the possibility of peace on earth for all humanity.

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