Troops of cashiers, meat cutters, shelf stockers, and bakers parade in front of the supermarket down the street from me. They all carry signs as they march back and forth before the store's entrance. Would-be shoppers are encouraged to go elsewhere.
The dozen or so picketers I drive past daily join the 70,000 other grocery workers up and down my state of California who are on strike at this writing. In addition to those striking supermarket workers are the striking mechanics for the local bus and rail system serving much of southern California. And the nightly news reports on disgruntled deputies from the sheriff's department who apparently aren't allowed to strike but are holding a sickout. Still other groups stretch the list much longer.
The reason is the same in every instance. Healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. Employers are trying to pass along some of those increases to workers, but workers are resisting. They're loath to give up benefits that they've gained over generations of negotiations and work stoppages.
Since I don't ride the bus, do have another supermarket nearby that's not on strike, can't remember ever calling the sheriff, and am self-employed in a field far from any of those on strike, it would be easy - or at least possible - to turn my back on all of this. Somehow I can't. I can't ignore a scene where so many workers feel the very health of their families is threatened. Or a scene where so many managers feel the very health of their companies is threatened.
An answer good for both sides seems less likely to surface than an ax head sunk to the bottom of a lake. Then I remember. That already happened. It's recorded in the Bible. So I begin to review in my mind stories from the Scriptures that hint at the possibility of impossible problems successfully and fairly resolved.
It's not hard. The Bible is strewn with such stories. Hostile collisions averted without violence, or even force. Hungry crowds fed without apparent provisions. Ample tax payments netted where none could be seen. Could I muster expectancy for such solution-finding today? The same divine intelligence is on hand. The same outside-the-box kind of inspiration that offers perspectives from which new approaches come into view.
Of course, opening up to divine intelligence and to the inspiration flowing from it, takes some doing. It requires anyone - labor, management, or any bystander willing to pray through this dispute - to lean in a totally new direction. A passage from Proverbs puts it this way: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.... It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones" (Prov. 3: 5, 6, 8).
Perhaps it's human nature to lean on one's own personal understanding in a conflict, and to put self-interest first. But this scripture redirects us.
To trust in the Lord - the divine intelligence that is the ultimate source of all inspiration, of all creative solutions that flow from it - is not to set ourselves, our families, or our companies up for sacrifice. But instead it opens us up for solutions so good, so unforeseen, they could only come from trusting in the God who is infinite Mind.
All-knowing Mind does that, does provide answers of the floating-ax variety. Our part is to lean, to trust - and to minimize the willfulness we bring to all the bargaining tables of our lives. Willfulness tends to sink the best of ideas. Yielding to the Divine tends to let great ideas surface.
What shall be the condition of the labor/management relationship, as we employ this kind of trust in God? To repeat the proverbial phrase, "It shall be health." Even more, as we have such trust we'll find, in fact, that same phrase increasingly describes the condition of our whole well-being. Now, that's a priceless boost to healthcare we can't afford to pass up.