This election year has stirred me in ways that are not always pleasant. Recently when a friend asked if I would vote for a particular candidate, I was shocked at the force of my negative response to the candidate and also found myself judging the morality and character of the candidate’s supporters. As Monitor articles have pointed out, this election seems to have had a polarizing effect among Americans and around the world.
Yet, as a Christian Scientist I have found that discord and polarization are not consistent with God’s law of harmony and are not conducive to progress for individuals or society. In fact, Christian Science holds that harmony is God’s natural order. Using “Principle” as a synonym for God, the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, “Harmony is produced by its Principle, is controlled by it and abides with it.” She follows this sentence shortly after with “Harmony in man is as beautiful as in music, and discord is unnatural, unreal” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 304). This friction I was seeing needed to be overcome.
I realized I needed to first overcome polarization in my own thought. This meant praying to better understand God’s government of peace and order. I had to realize that even in the midst of human clashing, God’s harmony is what truly has power. The Bible speaks of God’s power and presence: “For God is the King of all the earth;... God reigns over the nations ...” (Psalms 47:7, 8, New International Version). In my prayers, I knew I had to better understand God’s omnipotence. Mrs. Eddy writes, “You must feel and know that God alone governs man; that His government is harmonious ...” (“Rudimental Divine Science,” p. 10).
As I continued to pray, I was reminded of an experience I had a number of years ago that showed me that we don’t need to give in to anger or frustration – that finding peace within ourselves is always possible. One evening I attended a meeting at a neighboring school district to discuss important community issues. As a schoolteacher, I was there representing the district I worked in. I soon learned that the gentleman I ended up sitting next to was extremely critical of teachers – feeling they were overpaid and did not do enough to justify what he considered to be their high pay levels. At every opportunity he criticized and picked apart my profession.
I listened to his barrage of attacks and went home feeling very uncomfortable. It has been my habit to turn to God to lift thought above the temptation to feel anger or hate and to free myself of any sense of animosity, so I prayed to overcome these feelings.
I turned to Christ Jesus’ teachings and strove to “love [my] neighbour” (Matthew 19:19). My prayers helped me gain that deeper, spiritual view, which saw each one of us as God’s children. I understood that, because he was the offspring of God, this man’s true nature was spiritual and good, and therefore he was actually motivated, not by fear, pettiness, or anger, but by God, divine Love – so he was motivated by unselfishness and goodness. Seeing him and myself from this spiritual basis, I knew love was impelling us both, and this removed all sense of hurt and animosity that I was feeling. I not only forgave my “attacker,” but I was even able to feel love for him – feelings of goodwill and peace. I have always treasured this as a time that I learned to look past what seemed to be an angry individual to the man whom God created as loved and loving.
This experience has expanded my thought and appreciation for others, and reminded me that even when there seems to be discord and dissension, we can look beyond to glimpse something of everyone’s real individuality, made by God, good. It is within our true nature to express God’s goodness in being caring and loving, and this is how we find peace and contribute to solutions, helping to support useful and productive government.