The recent transition of ownership of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama elicited an interesting comment from a Panamanian businessman. He likened the situation to a son who informs his wealthy, domineering father that it's time for him to leave the nest and go out and make it on his own. The father with much silent apprehension agrees.
The son returns to his room, where he sits alone and wonders whether he really can do this. If he fails, how will he be able to face the consequences? And the father, too, sits alone, wondering how he can help the son without interfering with his self-determination and progress.
This was a defining moment for both the United States and Panama. Both countries have opportunity to let budding capacities emerge and succeed - or fail. What is at stake? What is at risk? A son's independence and a country's self-worth? A father's good name and a superpower's economic and security interests?
All of this and more.
Consider yet another interesting comparison. Jesus's disciples might have had to face conflicting emotions as they anticipated their respective roles in history, in which the disciples would carry on the work of establishing Christianity. Did they spend time agonizing over their ability and readiness to follow effectively Jesus' command to preach and heal? After all, the disciples had been plucked from life on fishing boats only a couple of years before.
It's hard to imagine Jesus lingering long in such emotions, though. He told his disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." He assured them: "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." After assuring them that they had a place and a purpose, he emphasized their capacity to perform, saying, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:1, 2, 12).
Jesus showed the world who we are and where it is we receive our capacities from. Individuals are made to express God, the one infinite Spirit. We receive spiritual strength and ability from God. It was from this conviction that Jesus was able to heal.
But what does this conviction have to do with individuals who have lived in countries with a history of colonial dominance and undemocratic governments? What about the fears that these nations will be plagued by corruption, mismanagement, and even terrorism?
At the root of these fears is the misconception that nothing beyond the human mind has the power to govern people and nations.
On the other hand, consider this idea: "The real jurisdiction of the world is in Mind, controlling every effect and recognizing all causation as vested in divine Mind" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 379). If the divine Mind, or God, is really "controlling every effect," then God has the power and authority to eliminate fear, inadequacy, exploitation, and pride of power. God can and does instill confidence, wisdom, and skill in His children.
According to one report in this newspaper, the handover of the canal "ushers in a new era of 'partnership'," giving Panamanians an opportunity for greater democratic participation in service to their country and the world, while developing a relationship to the United States that is based on equality and cooperation (Dec. 13, 1999). Prayer that is based on the understanding of one universal Mind expressed through all creation can help to make this opportunity a reality.
Be ye all of one mind,
having compassion one of
another, love as brethren, be
pitiful, be courteous: not
rendering evil for evil, or railing
for railing: but contrariwise
blessing; knowing that ye
are thereunto called, that ye
should inherit a blessing.
I Peter 3:8, 9
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society