The media reports from Argentina are disturbing - photos of rioting in the streets, interviews with a beleaguered series of presidents, sound bites from worried businessmen. Argentina's economic crisis continues to worsen, it seems, with a huge currency devaluation, and the current economic minister's pronouncement of a "collapsed economy."
Pundits in other Latin American capitals and in Washington are preoccupied by the crisis. Questions abound. Will the capital markets of Santiago, Caracas, and Mexico suffer in a ripple effect? Will investors leave like the proverbial rats from a sinking ship? Will the latest economic austerity plan succeed? Will there be, or should there be, a bailout from multilateral financial sources?
These questions indicate fears of a lack of leadership and stability, but this "economic contagion" can be reversed.
Many people have proved that prayer is effective in solving all sorts of problems, not only involving our bodies and physical infirmities, but also in addressing problems in the body politic. The prophet Isaiah recorded this promise centuries ago: "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (Isa. 65:24). God's answer is already in place. A faithful acceptance of God's all-power results in a change in our thinking, and, consequently, our experience - and the experience of those around us - can change for the better.
At a time of great personal peril before his crucifixion, Jesus said, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:31, 32). Perhaps we can think of "the prince of this world" as whatever would try to frighten humanity - fears of economic insecurity and political instability in the case of Argentina. But we have Jesus' promise of the uplifted Christ, which simultaneously casts out the evil and draws everyone. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," this definition of Christ: "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (pg. 583). The Christ still comes to humanity to destroy errors of all kinds, including mass panic and a feeling of helplessness.
Perhaps a microeconomic example can help to explain. Just before a severe economic downturn in the United States, I felt that I needed a career change. This meant leaving a secure and well-paying job to go back to university for retraining. We had financial obligations - a house, a car, and credit card debts, too. For a while it seemed like economic disaster. Although we were able to keep the house and car, we had the humiliation of having our creditors come for the credit cards, and finally we had nothing to eat but crackers and carrots. And we ate them for nearly two weeks.
During that time, I was challenged to turn to God more faithfully than I had in a long time. In spite of the economic crisis, I found a series of part-time jobs where my skills were needed, and every week became better than the previous one. By depending on God's guidance for our daily needs, we survived, even though I didn't have a "real job" for over five years. But I never panicked again, and I was never fearful of theories of economic recession. The Christ, uplifted in my thinking, brought us through it all.
The leadership of the Christ is intact; it "draws all men" and quiets fears. It reverses panic. God's tender love for each of His children, which we feel as the touch of the Christ in our hearts, is right here and right now. When we are facing economic peril - at that instant - the Christ, God's answer, is at hand to uplift us from discouragement and doubt and show the way out of peril. Acknowledging a divine leadership, the Christ, in our lives brings confidence, establishes our peace, and spills over to help to heal our world.