Good Government and Self-Government
IN many places around the world, totalitarian forms of government are beginning to give way to democratic systems allowing more individual choice and initiative. Progress is slow, and there have been setbacks, but this upswelling of freedom is encouraging. What seems to be surfacing is the recognition of the right of men and women to liberty and justice. Christian Science has long proclaimed this right. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, puts it: ``Like our nation, Christian Science has its Declaration of Independence. God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love.''1
Even if all of the world's totalitarian governments should give way to democratic systems, there would still be problems to confront of course. While democracy clearly comes closest of all forms of government to meeting the needs of the most people most of the time, no one could honestly claim that even democracy is the perfect form of government. A ``perfect government'' would demand, among other things, leaders with the wisdom to know what policies would best promote the general welfare, leaders who were perfectly dedicated to the welfare of the population in general -- not simply to benefiting themselves or some narrow interest group. All too often leaders lack the wisdom, the dedication, or both, to govern rightly.
By the same token, even the best-intentioned government may find itself limited by the unwillingness of those governed to obey the rule of law. The current ``war on drugs'' in the United States is a good example. The appetite of large segments of the American population for illegal drugs inhibits strong, effective efforts to stop the import and sale of those drugs.
Good government, then, depends upon the choices of individuals -- the choices of individual government leaders as well as the choices of individual citizens. Good government begins with good self-government. Since no one can or does make the right choices all of the time, though, how are we to avoid on the personal, as well as local, national, and international, level the mistakes that can lead to tragic errors?
Over the years countless individuals have discovered that as they turned to God in prayer and faithfully followed His directing, they have been guided and blessed. As individuals rely on God, divine Mind, to direct their choices, they make fewer errors themselves. And like the Bible's poor wise man who through his wisdom delivered a city,2 their decisions have blessed and saved nations as well.
Above all others Christ Jesus demonstrated true self-government. He recognized himself as God's Son and proved what it truly means to be made in God's image and likeness. Jesus did not claim to be the source of wisdom, intelligence, or insight. Rather, he acted wisely, intelligently, and insightfully because he knew that, as God's image and likeness, he was not capable of doing otherwise. He said, ``The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.''3
We too are God's creation, His children. Paul said, ``The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.''4 Thus, we can also demonstrate the self-government that Jesus showed us. As we do this, we find ourselves expressing more Godlike qualities -- more wisdom, more integrity, more ability. We become better able to discern between right and wrong, to know the correct decisions to make, and to find the capability to act on those decisions. The greater our demonstration of this true self-government, the better citizens -- and/or leaders -- we become.
Human governments are obviously necessary at present. And we each, to the extent that we demonstrate spiritual self-government, can increase our own capacity to be and to do right -- both on our own behalf, and on behalf of our nations. This divinely led right action, combined with consecrated prayer for our governments, will improve our governments, until all individuals are seen to be governed by God.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 106. 2See Ecclesiastes 9:14-16. 3John 5:19. 4Romans 8:16, 17.
BIBLE VERSE Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
Isaiah 9:6, 7