Or a political independent, for that matter. That might be worth remembering in the light of the recent stir about United States Senator James Jeffords's decision to leave the Republican Party and become an Independent. The switch is expected to have a far-reaching impact. It undoes the Republicans' fragile control of the Senate, undercuts its power to shape the agenda, and presents some major hurdles to the Bush administration as it tries to make its vision of the future a reality.
For those who are fervently political, the Jeffords switch is great news or terrible news. It's cause for elation or dismay. Then again, for a third group, especially those outside the Washington beltway, the whole topic is a yawner.
The good thing is, no matter what political allegiances we share or don't share, everyone who cares about good government has something huge in common. We have equal access to God in prayer. I'm finding this a good time to pray for government. And to remind myself that whenever we pause to remember that God is the supreme Lawgiver, the power that is really in control, we begin to see evidences of that Lawgiver at work. Not, of course, promoting either a liberal or a conservative agenda, but maintaining integrity, peace, order - and all other qualities of God. What we share is so much more than what we differ on. Because, in the end, we share one God, one divine Mind.
Where does stability come from? Where does continuity come from? What's the essence of good government? Party affiliation isn't the answer to any of these questions. Nor does the answer lie in the ability of any group to maintain dominance and push its agenda through.
With utter simplicity, the Psalmist reminds us, "For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations" (Ps. 22:28). It would be hard to say more about good government in fewer words. We often speak of governments as belonging to this party or that party, almost as if one group or another claims ownership of government. And that's not really healthy for any country. What if we try, for a moment, to think of every aspect of government as not belonging to anyone except God. And then, as we remember that fact, try to do our best to express His wisdom, His order, His peace, in all our everyday interactions. The result? We'll help government find a healthy focus and direction.
It's easy to slide into cynicism about this and dismiss prayer as irrelevant. Try not to do that. Because spiritual perceptions can valuably shape what takes place in the halls of government. Obviously, God isn't on the side of just one party. And, frankly, when we take the time to acknowledge that there is such a thing as divine government, this affirmation not only brings peace of mind, it makes life easier for politicians of all stripes. It unburdens them of a load that only the Divine can really carry. And it reminds us that everyone in government has access to the God-derived resources of integrity, wisdom, industry, and so on.
These spiritual facts don't diminish the importance of the political debate. The goal isn't for all of us to arrive at some sort of political sameness. Rather, it's to become aware that the supreme Lawgiver is spiritually counseling all of us. And our awareness of this fact can infuse the political process with more light and less heat.
About the same time this newspaper was being launched, the Boston Post published the following statement from the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy: "I am asked, 'What are your politics?' I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 276).
Supporting government in this way helps lessen partisan bickering and lets the best ideas surface.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor