That was how I reacted when I learned that my school was going to charge me for damage that I hadn’t caused.
Many of us have no doubt felt aggrieved in this way at some point. Or we might have felt a strong surge of compassion when we've learned of others being treated unfairly – whether next door or across the world. It’s natural to yearn for right rather than wrong, and we can each play a role in supporting the establishment of increasingly principled thinking and activity.
“Everyone is called upon to lead everywhere they are,” former South African public prosecutor Thuli Madonsela once observed, adding, “The first person we must lead is ourselves.” Ms. Madonsela was renowned for her “integrity in upholding the rule of law” (“When rule of law rules the roost,” CSMonitor.com).
Considering our embrace of the rule of law in our own thoughts and lives is a great starting point. And beyond that, I’ve learned from the teachings of Christian Science of a divine law that is stable, lasting, and unqualified. Looking to God, divine Principle, brings the understanding of this higher law.
“The law of the Lord is perfect,” the Bible assures us (Psalms 19:7). God’s perfect law governs the spiritual universe – the one true universe. It can never fluctuate or be broken because God is, at every moment, supreme. It can never exclude anyone because we are all God’s infinitely loved spiritual creation (see Psalms 100:3). Even when it seems like something else holds sway, prayer empowers us to see evidence of the supremacy of God’s law and to realize that injustice has no staying power.
And there’s more: This constant, all-inclusive law is entirely good, the law of divine Love itself. It is merciful and just; it upholds wholeness, joy, harmony. Indeed, Christ Jesus’ healing works show that the very existence of God’s all-governing law means that anything that isn’t good, or loving, or principled could never be part of spiritual reality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: “God’s law is in three words, ‘I am All;’ and this perfect law is ever present to rebuke any claim of another law” (“No and Yes,” p. 30).
Which brings me back to the situation with the damaged college property that my fellow residence hall-mates and I had discovered one morning, much to our dismay. It had resulted from a party another group had held in our building’s basement gathering space. Because no one had been able to find out who specifically had caused the damage, the costs associated with repairing it were to be divided up among the dorm’s residents.
I was indignant, even though this was in line with well-known school policy and I understood why things were handled this way. Of course I intended to abide by the policy, but it simply didn’t seem right for so many innocent students to incur this expense. So I did what I had often found to be helpful in difficult situations: I turned to God in prayer.
It wasn’t that I was asking God to get me out of paying. Instead, I was seeking a different, more spiritual view of things. I wanted to better understand that even if it doesn’t always seem like it when we look around, we can trust that God’s children are spiritual, always subject to goodness and goodness alone, always under the government of God, where goodness reigns supreme.
As I prayed along these lines, the sense of anger that my inner cry of “That’s unjust!” had fed was replaced by a calm, comforting sense that God’s law is eternally being fulfilled, and that there are no victims in God’s kingdom.
Very soon after that, we learned that an unexpected lead had resulted in the identification of those responsible for the damage. The dorm’s residents wouldn’t be charged after all! I was grateful for those who had been diligently working to resolve the situation, and for the clearer understanding of divine law I had gained through prayer.
Humbly and wholeheartedly striving to better understand that each of us, as God’s spiritual creation, is subject to divine law inspires us to think and act – that is, to “lead ... ourselves” – in ways that are in accord with God’s law of goodness. And that can open the door to evidence of God’s eternal law challenging injustices here and now.