THIS past year I heard about a conference on spirituality in the workplace. There is a growing call today to go beyond enlightened humanism and explore the power of spiritual values in everyday life. Spirituality is a moment-by-moment fidelity to goodness. It cannot be confined in just certain aspects of existence.
A cry for spiritual help is not surprising, since violence and discrimination are so prevalent in the workplace. Child slave labor and inhumane working environments, often in combination, still exist throughout the world. According to the Anti-Slavery Society, an Australian group, more than 100 million Asian children-some as young as four-are forced to work eighteen-hour days in appalling conditions. They are making consumer products for Western nations. Sweatshops exist in the United States too, as documented in a recent news program I saw.
God's commandment in the Bible "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15) is applicable to these issues. Much more than human law, this commandment is divine law. It establishes man's inalienable right to be free from slavery of all types. God's promise to the ancient Hebrews, "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" (Exodus 6:6), is very significant today. This covenant between God and the Israelites speaks of a freedom that is guaranteed-freedom from the concept of intelligence and power in matter.
The Scriptures teach that real power belongs to God. It is a belief of material power that brings mental slavery.
Sixty-four years before she founded this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy expressed antislavery sentiments relevant to her country's practices. As a young widow she allowed her late husband's slaves to go free. After the Civil War, Mrs. Eddy wrote the following in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free" (p. 227). The freedom referred to here is a universal one that acknowledges the divine rights of man as a child of God. This liberty goes beyond human rights, which only approximate it. This liberty involves the spiritual status of man, in which God's laws constitute the only governing power. Evil has no authority in the presence of God's law.
It is through Christ-God's message coming to human consciousness-that you can perceive man, independent of age, to be an idea, or "plan for action," of God. Our actual destiny is to represent God; our real business is to glorify an all-loving Supreme Being.
The power of the Christ can end individual instances of enslavement and free both the oppressed and the oppressor. Prayer that seeks to hear God's message transforms and redeems us. Truly, God never made a wicked or violent man, a victim or a victimizer. Ignorance and fear, common roots of tyranny, can be supplanted by an understanding that God loves His creation. This understanding must, by divine law, improve human circumstances.
Each individual has the responsibility of improving the mental environment in which human decisions are made. Right thinking promotes human justice; human justice must increasingly reflect divine justice, and mankind must be increasingly governed by spiritual laws. Prayer and spiritual understanding don't just make a difference in the workplace; they are the difference-the difference between fear and freedom, between violence and harmony.
This very day, you and I can have a more spiritual perspective on labor. We can do this by first hearing the messages of God. As we learn to value these messages, our own activity, including buying practices, can be placed on a more spiritual foundation. As Christ Jesus instructed, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). "These things" include freedom. Whether we are facing oppression ourselves, or considering it in terms of a world issue, seeking the laws of God is helpful. It brings more good.
You can find more articles like this one in The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.