Today's need: moral fiber

A Christian Science perspective.

In business, politics, or our personal lives, instant gratification continually confronts us, and usually in the form of willful attempts to win the day with too little regard for tomorrow's consequences.

Michael Burry, physician, hedge-fund manager, and a predictor of the economic collapse of 2008, addressed the 2012 University of California, Los Angeles, graduating class in economics. He said: "[M]any if not most people will do questionable things that obviously make money and earn respect from common peers....

"[L]ife is not that short. Life is well and long enough for you to come to regret any activity or habit involving the exchange of long-term risk for short-term benefit. This is what many if not most Americans did during the refinancing and consumption boom of the last decade.... This is also the gospel of drunk drivers and cheating spouses. Of course, when you encounter the opposite – the short-term risk in exchange for long-term benefit – consider hitting that button again and again and again."

As the debate continues over the national debt, budget talks, immigration, and gun control, Dr. Burry's words should be heeded. To me they echo the words of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science Church, written more than 100 years ago. Referring to the works of Christ Jesus, she said: "We are in the Valley of Decision. Then, let us take the side of him who 'overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,' – of such as barter integrity and peace for money and fame" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 270). The same collection of writings includes this statement: "Some of the mere puppets of the hour are playing only for money, and at a fearful stake" (p. 368).

Once when a friend and I were talking about cars, we discussed the comparison between the strength of fiberglass and that of carbon fiber. I told him that there was something even stronger than carbon fiber. "What is that?" he asked. My reply was simple: moral fiber!

Spiritually minded individuals pray dutifully for the inspiration and divine guidance necessary to do what is right regardless of a political win, ill-gotten financial gains, or praise from "common peers." They are informed by the spiritual laws of integrity, love, fairness, justice, and respect. However, standing for these values requires moral courage – persistently standing for what is morally right in the face of challenges. Permanent answers to our national debates are both available to us and achievable by us through prayerful listening, moral fortitude, and inspired action.

Christian Scientists join those of all faiths in praying daily for our elected officials to be guided rightly, knowing that they are subject to the higher laws of God and possess the conscience and the instincts to act rightly. The blessings that result will be measured by the contributions made in the long term, long after short-term results have faded.

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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.”

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