" 'Our budget process is really driven by the interest groups and the apparent inability of elected officials to shut everyone out of the room and do the work [on the budget],' says Doug Heller, executive director of the California-based Consumer Watchdog."
When I read this in the Monitor's Daily News Briefing (July 15), a Bible story of Jesus raising a Jewish official's daughter came to mind (see Mark 5:22-43). The girl had just died, and mourners were gathered outside the family home. They laughed and scorned Jesus when he told them not to weep because the girl was just sleeping. Nevertheless, he shut all the skeptics out of the room and raised the girl to life.
As a California voter for several decades, I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that the political process there needs a resurrection. And it's easy to feel that the system's faults are so ingrained that they're past hope of changing. Yet as a praying person, I believe there's a lesson in Jesus' example of shutting out influences that interfere with just solutions.
Jesus understood there is a higher truth than human control and competing interests. It's the unifying truth that we all have one source that loves and blesses all equally. The Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established. Having no other gods, turning to no other but the one perfect Mind to guide him, man is the likeness of God, pure and eternal, having that Mind which was also in Christ" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 467).
Whatever challenges people deal with in a political system, there's immense benefit in shutting out influences that seek mainly personal gain, and praying that one God reveal the common good. Selfishness interferes with right solutions because it goes against the truth of one God and Father. Unselfish prayer can stop the interference. Prayer is like plugging into an unlimited power grid. One might picture this grid as the universal energy of divine Love that operates invisibly and constantly. It's what motivates us to smile at a passerby, give our seat to someone on a crowded bus, or donate time to a worthy cause.
The average citizen can play a crucial role in improving government by acknowledging the supremacy of the divine Mind. We can acknowledge that legislators have the courage to follow their conscience instead of bowing to special interests. Clear decisions for the common good are natural to all of us as children of one Truth.
Prayer doesn't cause God to intervene in human affairs. We don't need to ask God to govern people any more than we have to ask the principle of mathematics to control numbers. But prayer does make us more aware of the presence of the divine Principle that governs everything justly. It makes us more convinced that there's always a right way forward even if we can't see the whole solution yet. And it makes us more courageous to trust that way.
Our prayers contribute not only to our own clarity, but to that of others as well. To go back to the power grid metaphor, some home and business owners generate enough electricity from alternative energy sources to sell power back to the grid. Similarly, when one individual has the strength of conviction that God supports every effort to do right, his or her conviction energizes others to break through the feeling that nothing can change.
There's a way for California to throw off the paralysis of battling power centers. Those who work in government and in the private sector do have the ability and the good will to shut out obstructions to progress and work together constructively. Turning to the one Mind that loves all equally, we can trust a resurrection to take place in all areas of life.