Citizens in several countries will soon elect government officials. Among them are the Russians. As well, Americans have their presidential election late in the year. In both of these races, considerable publicity has been given to the different personalities who are running-represented as good, evil, or even boring. Is the personality of a leader really the key to good government?
Consider this observation of Mary Baker Eddy: "Personality is not the individuality of man. A wicked man may have an attractive personality." Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science in 1866 led to her establishment of a church and of this newspaper. Those words are from the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 491). According to this line of reasoning, we can make better choices in voting if we try to see beyond the personality of a candidate. In other words, glamour, glitz, and even campaign promises aren't what make a good prospect for office.
The message of Christian Science shows that each individual is meant to reflect God as His spiritual image, in the good qualities that are like Him in nature. These qualities are the essence of everyone, including politicians. But in an age geared toward emphasizing personalities, how do you see beyond the superficial details that sometimes seem so dominant? As the name Christian Science implies, it is involved with the works of Christ Jesus. His life and his teachings give examples to live by in these present times. In his deeds is a message concerning the subject of personality. Jesus was constantly pointing people to God. Although he did good works and knew his cause was right, Jesus indicated that God was the One to whom all should turn for government.
An incident given in Luke's Gospel illustrates this point (see chap. 18:18-23). A ruler came to Jesus and asked, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Instead of acting like a powerful personality who could advise important people, Jesus did something much more humble. The Bible says, "Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God." Jesus then referred the man to the Ten Commandments, which turn us to God's controlling power.
This example can be helpful in evaluating political candidates, because it shows so clearly the difference between variable human personality and the unchanging law of God that always benefits humankind. Personality is not a good source of long-term government, in and of itself. But the spiritual law underlying the Ten Commandments can benefit individuals and nations.
You may be thinking, "Well, I can't vote for the Ten Commandments! We need human beings to lead us." True enough. But in your evaluation of candidates, you can refer to evidence of respect for spiritual law as your guide. For example, you could ask yourself how devoted a candidate is to the laws of the land. Obedience to human law tends to imply a respect for justice, order, and other spiritual qualities embodied in the laws of God.
What about truthfulness? One who is willing to be truthful, even when it isn't pleasant to take such a stand, is allying himself or herself with God, who is divine Truth. Do you see in a candidate signs of humility and willingness to listen to others' ideas? If so, the individual could be seeking to serve, rather than hold, power; and this commitment to service puts the candidacy on a more spiritual basis than does personal aggrandizement.
In promoting responsible elections, you can practice discerning spiritual qualities in candidates. It may take persistence, and you may not always feel totally comfortable with your decisions. But try cutting through the "image" of a candidate, to his or her individuality. This will do a lot to get you, and our world, on better paths.
You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.