Lessons from the oil spill

A Christian Science perspective.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote novelist George Santayana. Of course, before we can remember the past and learn from it, we have to get the facts straight.

One of the most frustrating things about the Gulf oil spill is how difficult it’s been to ascertain the facts. What went wrong is hard to discover when equipment is thousands of feet under water. There are still questions about how much oil is pouring out, how it can be stopped, and what’s the best way to fight the ecological damage it’s causing. The most meaningful fact to consider, though, is not found in analyzing what led to the spill. Rather, it has to do with recognizing a resource available to us here and now. Intelligence, wisdom, reason, inspiration, and the perceptiveness to see what is right and do it, are what must base any successful response to the challenges of dealing with this disaster. Though expressed practically and in human terms, the qualities needed to overcome adversity have a divine origin. Inspiration, by definition, comes from outside the loop of reaction and opinion.

Any of us can gain access to inspired thought about the situation through prayer. This isn’t a petition to an anthropomorphic deity, but the opening of the heart and mind to the infinite possibilities and power of God, divine good. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Spiritual sense, contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality” (p. 298). Though the senses may report disaster on every level, there is more to be considered. Our natural desire to make things right suggests an intuitive sense that there is more than meets the eye – the possibility of a solution not yet seen.

The Bible is a vital record of the efficacy of hope coupled with an appreciation of divine power. Jesus’ understanding of the divine presence and power enabled him to meet human trouble with assurance. His teachings inspired his followers with hope in the ability of divine Love to help and save. No matter what the evidence of sin, disease, or death may be, we can have hope in that same divine power during this current crisis.

Hope is a clear-eyed response to God, not just looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Hope is faith that enables us to go forward despite alarming conditions and find inspiration in unlikely places; calm amid emotional tempests; goodwill to keep doing our best and not get mired in fear, anger, or sorrow.

Such a faith leads to the understanding that we are not alone. That no matter how unfavorable conditions may appear, our job is to keep responding to the divine presence – to keep thinking and acting in accord with those spiritual qualities that are God’s own expression.

We can’t outline the answers and solutions in this situation. But we can get a clear sense of what is required of us and accept the divine Principle that enables us to meet the demands of this moment. Living and acting with spiritual sense, we not only can avoid repeating mistakes but can find that truly, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” The real learning is learning to lean on the power of Spirit.

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