Quenching volcanoes of partisanship

A Christian Science perspective.

With the presidential election ramping up in the United States, and other important elections taking place worldwide, incessant political attack ads abound. These can have a corrosive effect not only on the political process, but on individual lives and society as a whole.

While it may seem necessary to pick sides, I’ve found what I most need is the desire to express righteousness – not self-righteousness, but the divine nature, which includes humility, wisdom, judgment, even forgiveness. That makes it easier for me to pick God’s side – to put aside my personal feelings and seek His guidance.

I’ve also found it helpful to love my neighbors and be sensitive to the feelings of others even if I don’t necessarily embrace their ideas. While we need to make decisions, we don’t need to judge others, to think less of them if they don’t think as we do. I’ve learned the need for mental alertness so that I don’t let others’ influence move me to accept ideas that aren’t natural to my own thinking.

“When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path,” writes Mary Baker Eddy in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 254). It is the one infinite divine Mind, the unrestricted and infinite intelligence, that is the source of all good and healing ideas.

In a practical way, President Abraham Lincoln confirmed this truth when he responded to an associate who said that he prayed that God was on his side. Lincoln said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Every individual – including candidates and voters – is, in fact, the perfect child of God. This means that no one can be separated from right reasoning and sound judgment, even if things don’t always turn out according to one’s own expectation. I learned this some years ago when I ran for public office.

I was running to fill a mid-term vacancy in a congressional district. Such elections require a highly focused, short, local campaign, and I believed I was the leading candidate since I was well known in the community as a political activist with significant business experience. But I was attacked through newspaper ads, radio talk shows, campaign fliers, verbal lies, and smears. These claims were so different from who I really was that my friends assured me they did not know the man being described in this attack. And neither did I.

During this period I had daily early morning telephone contact with a Christian Science practitioner. We considered the specifics of the daily reports and prayed together for my protection and safety. We also worked with citations from the Bible and Science and Health and other writings by Mrs. Eddy.

One day we prayed together with the fifth verse of the 91st Psalm: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” We paid special attention to the spiritual protection that prevails against an arrow – the arrow of any mental influence that would threaten me. Eddy makes it clear through her writings that these influences are powerless before divine Love’s omnipotence.

That day while driving, I was involved in a head-on collision. It was a moment for me to trust God with all my heart. I was immediately knocked out and I felt I was sinking into total darkness. I heard an angel message, or inspired thought from God: “Do not move until you control your thought.” As I fought to do this, it came to me to recite “the scientific statement of being” from Science and Health (p. 468). With no small amount of struggle I was able to do that and to feel the power of those words.

I was unhurt, and not long after that, I was able to call the practitioner and my wife from a nearby home. Though both cars were totaled, the other driver also made quick progress and was well enough to be released from the hospital the same day. We came to know each other in the next few weeks, and I was touched when she heartily endorsed me as a candidate.

Years later I’m still deeply grateful for God’s protection and guidance that “thou shalt not be afraid ... for the arrow that flieth by day.” Though I didn’t win the election, I was at peace because I had won the greatest victory possible: I had not been hurt in the accident. I had overcome the fear of the arrow that flieth by day. I was also learning to subordinate human self to the will of God, to listen and follow God’s guidance.

The Bible advises, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). When we take our stand along spiritual lines, we are helping eliminate willpower, overwhelming zeal, religious judgmentalism, and aggressive animosity toward others. This stand guides us, protects us, and supports good government. It’s a fitting service to our fellow citizens and our nations.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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