What is the most needful thing? What is essential? Aside from food and water, what does humanity need to progress and prosper?
News reports, Facebook pages, and YouTube videos have shown remarkably coordinated protests about the economic situation, particularly unemployment, in the streets from Spain to Scotland, from Athens to New York. As a recent Monitor feature explores, this movement of primarily young people, whose hopes and dreams are being sorely tried by economic stagnation and uncertainty, appears to be crying out in many ways on behalf of all humanity, its fears, doubts, and uncertainties.
Could there be a deep hungering today for a sense of conscious self-worth? A sense of worth that goes beyond a paycheck (as important as that is) to feeling loved and included? It’s safe to say this is indeed a vital component to the progress and happiness of young and old alike.
In 1902, on the heels of the unprecedented prosperity of the Gilded Age, the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “[C]onscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1902,” p. 17). It’s a universal longing felt in every age and addressed by ancient biblical worthies from Job to St. Paul.
Christ Jesus addressed it definitively when his followers asked him how they should pray, and he gave them the Lord’s Prayer, including this line: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Aside from a petition for material food, however, the sentence can be seen as an appeal to God, the one Father and Mother of all, for spiritual nourishment. Mrs. Eddy, no stranger to hard times, restated this line in its spiritual interpretation: “Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 17).
The need to feel “conscious worth” seems intimately tied to the need for affection. If humanity’s affections are “famished,” what would feed them? It would have to be love. Untainted, unpretentious, unconditional love.
To marshal that kind of spiritual love might seem daunting in light of the many disturbing reports of brutality and evil one sees played out in the world. Some days the darkness depicted in media reports seems impenetrable. Yet, how is darkness always dispelled? By light, of course. All the darkness of the night sky can’t quench the light of a single candle.
Perhaps lighting the “candle” of love in our hearts, while not solving all the world’s problems, is the place to begin. The Bible puts it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.... God is Love” (I John 4:7, 8).
This kind of love enriches human life beyond all reckoning. It recognizes unlimited good in people. It stands up for what is just. It affirms the inherently spiritual nature of man and woman, representing the one Spirit, or God. This reflected love of God – unselfish, generous, and unutterably kind – sees all creation as embraced by the one Creator, divine Love. No one is excluded. No one is separated from this Love. Though physically imperceptible, it is the great “something” that gives meaning to everything, from a child’s smile to the sacrifices made for a just cause.
Mrs. Eddy had high hopes that the love-inspired life of Christ Jesus could be reinstated among humanity today, through healing the sick and strengthening the down-hearted. She even founded this newspaper as a way of monitoring the needs of the world in order that love not turn inward but burn brightly on behalf of all humanity.
In one address to Christian Scientists in Chicago in 1888, she said: “In obedience to the divine nature, man’s individuality reflects the divine law and order of being. How shall we reach our true selves? Through Love.... I will love, if another hates. I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 104).
One’s heart surges with compassion for the brave and sincere young people around the globe whose nonviolent voices are uniting on behalf of human dignity, equal opportunity, and fair representation. May all just purposes prosper, even as “conscious worth” prospers, and to that aim – let us love.
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