Should self-government be stifled or encouraged? Politically, that question has come up among national leaders in Europe. Following events in Kosovo, a concern is that other people on the Continent who belong to ethnic minority groups may rally for autonomy. But political leaders aren't the only ones dealing with this issue. The question affects all of us.
When the desire for greater independence comes to people, regardless of where or when that happens, there are important factors to consider: maturity, the record of experience, and self-sufficiency.
But there's something else that's absolutely vital. The most fundamental thing to consider is how the power of God maintains and promotes self-government.
In the Bible the Psalmist writes of God that He shall "judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth" (Ps. 67:4). "All things were made by him," the Gospel of John states, "and without him was not any thing made that was made" (1:3). God, the infinite and divine Mind, is both the Maker and governor of the universe and of all men, women, and children.
So self-government works only to the extent that it adheres to the divine will and government.
One of history's strong advocates of the right of individuals to govern themselves was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper and the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." And this book clearly states the essential spiritual requirements. For example: "Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love" (pg. 106).
Can't we consider some of those "things" that are referred to in the Gospel of John, which God made and bestows on everyone, to be the rights of self-government, freedom, and spiritual dominion? These rights can't be withheld or taken from anyone. They're ours to exercise for the purposes of knowing God's guidance and reflecting our Maker, and for being all that God made us to be, His image.
Adhering to God's design of freedom and dominion ensures that we have the moral and spiritual strength to know and experience everything that comes to us from God, the divine Life. For example, in God we discover our spiritual individuality, as well as limitless ways in which to express it. The divine Mind also provides the ideas that supply us with purposeful employment and health, as well as with opportunities to grow, to help others, to expand our horizons, and to improve our talents. And because God is the source of these ideas, we always have unhindered access to them through prayer.
Sometimes it's necessary, though, to persist in our prayer and our demonstration of self-government, especially when events make the world seem a confusing and manipulative place. Then there's no better time to exercise our right to govern ourselves. As divine Mind's expression, we have the immediate capacity to declare independence from confusion and manipulation, and to hear God's guidance.
We can reason that because God is infinitely loving and wise, His thoughts are embracing everyone and wisely guiding us all. And because God is all-inclusive Mind, His thoughts are unifying, not divisive. They empower us to act in a way that promotes harmony. Conscience helps us distinguish between right thoughts and wrong ones, so that we can be sure we're moving along the path that God, not personal will, is mapping out.
Clearly, then, a spiritually based self-government should be encouraged, nurtured, and practiced, for the good of both individuals and nations.
He calleth them all by
names by the greatness
of his might, for that he
is strong in power;
not one faileth.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society