China has the largest economy in the world after the United States. It includes about 6.5 percent of the world's total land area, and its population, which exceeds one billion, accounts for about 23 percent of the world's people. Forecasters predict a $320 billion trade surplus for China this year. Those numbers alone convey a feeling of massive power and influence.
Among the countries that are feeling this influence are several in Africa that were described in a recent series in this newspaper. China's hunger for natural resources has led it to befriend developing countries, some of which are run by brutal dictatorships. Its willingness to overlook human rights abuses has led to criticism from some Western nations (see "How China's quiet support shields a regime called 'genocidal,'" June 26).
There are many reasons why China would be reluctant to get involved in these causes – among them its dislike of having other countries tell it what it should do. Other cultural and political influences also shape its behavior.
But as this important nation plays a larger role on the world stage – especially with the Beijing Olympics approaching – there's a spiritual relationship that deserves our support and that will help to bring out the best for China and its people. Mary Baker Eddy described it in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation" (p. 332).
This ultimate Father-Mother enables one to see beyond tradition and politics to the spiritual connection each of us has with all our fellow beings. Under the influence of divine Love's fathering and mothering, each individual becomes important.
As China increasingly becomes a working partner in the international community, the world will be a safer and more stable place for all people. Our prayers can support China's ability to gain a broader view of its role as a member of the world community, a partner with individual gifts to bring to the table. Mrs. Eddy wrote, "The human capacities are enlarged and perfected in proportion as humanity gains the true conception of man and God" (Science and Health, p. 258).
To understand the truth of our relationship with God, and to love in this inclusive way, is to have open hands toward one another, and to embrace the progress of each nation in our thoughts and prayers. We don't need to outline how that love will influence China or the other countries in its sphere. Rather, we can trust that God, the one Mind, will provide intelligent guidance to government officials and others who are shaping the course of each nation. This divine direction will bring out the best in all concerned. It will reduce fear and increase trust. It will provide for all because its source is divine Love, which is infinite.
Each individual and nation already has an unbreakable relation to divine Love. Each of us is a vital, spiritual idea, created by God, regardless of our nationality. No political or philosophical system can take away the spiritual nature that Love has given us because it is the very foundation of our being. It's the stuff of which we are made. As we understand this, we also grasp that no one is just a number or part of a faceless mass, because individuality and spirituality are essential to the life God has given us.
As the book of Isaiah says of God, "I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways" (45:12, 13).