Sharing that makes a difference

A Christian Science perspective.

The Internet makes sharing so easy, we hardly notice it’s happening. When our daughter brought us a batch of tasty plums, we decided to use some in a plum cake, and looked up a recipe online. We checked the reviews to find out how it had turned out for other people. Their enthusiasm encouraged us to go ahead – it made it a kind of cooperative activity. (And the cake was delicious!)

We regularly visit Rotten Tomatoes, TripAdvisor, and Urban Spoon to read praise and complaints people share about movies, motels, and pizzas. These strangers help us make our plans.

We’ve even joined the hosts of CouchSurfing (that means that we arrange through the Internet to temporarily house travelers in our home). We feel we’ve enriched our lives by sharing our space this way with some great people we never would have met otherwise. Our very first guest was a schoolteacher from abroad who had taken a year off to travel. She had a good long bucket list of specific things she wanted to see and do, and we saw and enjoyed parts of our home city with her that we’d never seen before. And we’ve also hosted a young man in town for a job interview (he got the job), a musician on his way to a gig, a fundraiser, a soldier on leave, and a rich mosaic of others.

The connections made through the Internet and real-life communities broaden our worldview and enrich our experience.

Beyond the new forms of connection, there is a kind of sharing that is natural and even more inclusive. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote from a deep Christian tradition about the spiritual qualities we share with others. She wrote of happiness, for example: “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 57).

Even though sharing is one of the first lessons from childhood, it may be hard to imagine sharing happiness or love or patience with all humanity if that includes the cranky neighbor who was dismissive of your child, or a person who writes hateful things on the Internet. 

But we can practice. We can work toward what Mrs. Eddy describes as the answer to humanity’s great need for more love: “A pure affection, concentric, forgetting self, forgiving wrongs and forestalling them ...” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 107). (Reminder for those far removed from high school geometry: Concentric means having a common center.)

It helps if we focus on the center we have in common with all humanity: our spiritual source, the divine Father-Mother who created each of us and constantly provides us with fresh ideas and fresh impulses to love. It’s possible to see past the demeaning behaviors that mask divine creation, the clichés of our own judgments, and to see the beauty, even the glory, of what we have in common with each of our fellow beings. 

Then we want to expand our connections and sharing for rewards even greater than plum cake.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.