True governance

A Christian Science perspective: On power and government.

People on nearly every continent are pondering questions about governance. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, the contentious presidential election in the United States, the standing of Aborigines in Australia’s state of Victoria, and the upcoming referendum in Britain to decide if the country will remain in the European Union (discussed in more depth in this week’s cover story) all point to highly charged issues with strong opinions all across the political spectrum. Some decisions create angst among voters as they’re debated over many months and even years.

As I’ve considered governance in my own country, I’ve found several ideas lift my thought.

One idea is that God, good, is what truly governs us. Recognizing this is an important step that brings good governance to light in our experience. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, uses “divine Mind” as a synonym for God when she writes: “Be firm in your understanding that the divine Mind governs, and that in Science man reflects God’s government” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 393). She grew to acknowledge God’s government through an illumined understanding of the Bible – a volume filled with reports illustrating that neither party nor president, king nor pharaoh holds the real reins of power. In one such story, an Egyptian pharaoh perpetuated the slavery of the Israelites until Moses, by following God’s direction, led them to freedom. Moses hadn’t been trained to govern. But he did have the humility to listen for God’s voice.

The issues of our day generally come with a lot of bluster. But listening for God’s voice brings a peace that quiets this noise and invites inspiration. Praying to ensure a particular outcome doesn’t provide a mind-set for such listening. In my own experience, I’ve found that putting aside human opinions to better understand God and our individual relationship to Him makes me receptive to divinely inspired ideas for the well-being of all parties.

The book of James, which describes Christ Jesus’ teachings, explains the nature of God’s government in this citation: “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Our job is to be alert to the leadings of this governing Principle. God speaks to our own consciousness, so we must be willing to forfeit personal opinions or agendas to truly hear and heed God’s direction.

As Moses’ journey with the Israelites illustrated, this kind of humble listening is effective and can lead to surprising conclusions. Right, inspired decisions can gently occupy our thoughts and fill them with an unshakable sense of peace. When we hear this inspiration, it helps us rise above anger-driven motives and come to solutions that benefit all concerned.

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