Supporting harmony, not division

A Christian Science perspective.

Opinions! Everyone seems to have them, and they color some of the most important issues in both our individual and increasingly globally intertwined lives.

Recently, as I waded through the tangled web of news, media spin, and opinions offered by sources around the world, I began to feel disoriented and unsure of what I could trust. It was sometimes challenging to distinguish between fact and opinion. I found myself longing for a way to rise above all the political rhetoric and partisan opinions. I felt such a need to overcome the divisiveness of opinions, which appear to be such an intractable part of human relationships.

Pondering this desire, I was reminded of a recent situation that took place in my branch church – one that threatened to undermine the understanding, harmony, and unity which characterize our congregation. Not long ago, we found ourselves polarized over strongly felt political positions and cultural ties. To our dismay, as these views and concerns were articulated more clearly, things became increasingly controversial. 

At one point someone asked for my view on the issue being debated. I opened my mouth to respond, but an inward voice bade me be silent. After a moment of quiet thought, I suggested that it would be more productive if we all prayed about the situation rather than continuing to allow opinions to divide us. Because we all wanted to rise above this conflict, my fellow members quickly agreed. We took a few minutes to silently pray and then united in repeating the Lord’s Prayer.

Our prayer that day did not resolve the political disagreement that had shaken the harmony and mutual understanding we usually feel, but it did strengthen our desire to direct thought away from partisanship back to God, the universal source of peace, unity, and wisdom. As we prayed “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), it was a timely and powerful reminder that we needed to let go of our own sense of what should come to pass and instead yield to the unfoldment of God’s will.

Political situations often seem complicated and can be challenging to resolve, but resolution never grows out of stubbornly clinging to self-will or personal agendas. A unifying resolution always grows out of a humble willingness to look at divisive situations from a fresh perspective and be open to God’s unfoldment, which may bring solutions not yet seen.

Once when Jesus knew his disciples had argued over which of them would be the greatest, he gently explained, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). His profoundly simple answer exposed their self-aggrandizement and revealed a need for greater humility as a prerequisite for leadership. He demonstrated that self-will can actually hinder one’s progress. It can also destroy unity.

Emphasizing the importance of subjugating self-will to humility and compassion, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The power of the human will should be exercised only in subordination to Truth; else it will misguide the judgment and free the lower propensities” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 206). When our desire is to let our own will give way to the unifying effect of divine Love, we can expect to experience the harmonizing effect that comes from seeking divine guidance in human affairs. Mrs. Eddy explains, “Divine Love reforms, regenerates, giving to human weakness strength, serving as admonition, instruction, and governing all that really is.... Love talked and not lived is a poor shift for the weak and worldly. Love lived in a court or cot is God exemplified, governing governments, industries, human rights, liberty, life (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 287).

Most of us have opinions on many things, but as we each pray daily “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), we will experience more of the unifying, selfless love Christ Jesus taught. Doing this will enable us to experience our spiritual heritage of oneness, harmony, and peace, and supplant division. Transformations usually require hard work and persistent effort, but by uniting in this simple prayer, step by step we will experience a new sense of rapport in our individual, national, and global relationships.

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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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