Detroit and the results of true brotherhood

A Christian Science perspective: A look at how brotherhood factored into the swift recovery of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing. 

The city of Detroit was handed a landmark ruling and a blessing to go forward as it exited – in just over 16 months – the nations largest municipal bankruptcy filing. After months of negotiations and creative solutions, Detroit arrived at a historic settlement that is endorsed by every major creditor, the city’s unions, and the city and state governments (see “In historic ruling, federal judge sets Detroit on path to exit bankruptcy,” by Jacob Axelrad).

Experts called the speedy resolution unheard of in a bankruptcy filing of this size and complexity. This type of legal battle in companies and governments can often take years during which creditors argue over how remaining resources will be divided. In the beginning, this is exactly what was expected in Detroit – a city where people had combative relationships within suburbs, unions, and government. But a shift created an environment in which all parties began to work together, expeditiously, toward one common goal. Former adversaries became partners, and disagreements resolved into cooperation (see “A model in Detroit’s post bankruptcy plan”). 

While many factors helped make this process a success, perhaps none played so critical a role in the turnaround of the city as a sense of true brotherhood. Brotherhood implies harmony as we work toward a common goal. It should be, in fact, the natural state for all mankind. Natural, because it is in our true nature as the image and likeness of the one God, as outlined in the Bible. This real, God-established individuality of man is not divided, but we all express the oneness, or unity, of God because God is the one Father who created us all (see I John 3). The founder of this paper, Mary Baker Eddy, spoke at length in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” about the importance of recognizing that we all have one Father-Mother and what momentous healing this truth can bring to the world’s areas of conflict. She wrote, “It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established” (p. 467).

Understanding God as divine Love is a step toward achieving a true sense of brotherhood. When we learn that every individual is made in the image of Love, we let go of old disputes, a personal sense of right, and a hardness of heart that impedes progress forward. Dropping an unloving sense of ourselves and others makes room for the love that has its source in God and which directs us and leads the way. The reach of God’s love, when understood and expressed, is widespread across borders, race, age, and even history because God is all-power.

How true are the words written by David, an experienced warrior and leader, when he wrote in Psalms 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (New American Standard Bible). Certainly there are many areas of the world today where this spirit of love and true brotherhood is needed. We can continue to see that our common heritage as the children of divine Love unites us as brothers and sisters, because we are eternally bonded with our creator as God’s own expression. Even getting a glimpse of this spiritual fact unites us, not merely for the common good, but in fulfillment of the divine good – bringing permanent, peaceful resolution.

Self-righteousness, self-justification, and self-interest – which would act as a barrier to progress and keep us stuck in conflict or in limited and small solutions – dissolve as we understand our unity with God, see all others as embraced in this unity, and pray to put this unity into practice by trusting God and treating others as our fellow brothers and sisters.

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