In service of God and country

A Christian Science perspective: Praying to see solutions to national and international problems.

I live in Washington, D.C. Many have the impression that life in this area is just like it's portrayed in television shows, or reported in the press and on social media. Based on these impressions, a lot of people have asked me how any good person could stand to live in such turmoil. In particular, when preparations for a nonpartisan baseball game turned into the tragedy of this week’s shooting, it might seem that this is a toxic atmosphere within which to work.

But that’s not how I see it. I’ve found that living in Washington gives me moment-by-moment opportunities to put my love for God, for my country, and for humankind into practice, with a view to make people’s lives better. That might sound idealistic, but I’m certainly not the only one in Washington who would respond in this way. People in a variety of positions in the government, civilian work, and the military – of all different backgrounds and political leanings, who simply want to serve their government in order to help others – would say that’s largely what brought them to Washington in the first place. They have a sincere desire to end suffering, to find solutions to national and international problems, to bring about peace, to uncover and eliminate corruption both here and abroad.

These examples of service aren’t limited to my country, but are found in countries around the world. This global community of service reminds me of what Mary Baker Eddy says in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, – these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence” (p. 58).

This doesn’t mean there aren’t moments when the desire to help others isn’t tested by political challenges in the workplace. I certainly had plenty of those moments while I was working in government. On many occasions when I felt upset, frustrated by a lack of progress on projects due to politics, or seemed to be losing my sense of perspective about a situation, I would turn to the Bible to find comfort and inspiration that enabled me to regain my equilibrium.

Similarly in the face of crime, I have turned to the Scriptures for peace and healing. Praying with the message of the one infinite God, good, found in those pages has always reminded me that I am not alone, that there is something bigger than myself that is in control and governing creation harmoniously.

In terms of working for the common good, praying with this passage has always been helpful to me: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). It’s a reminder to me that ultimately my job is to be true to myself as a child of God, who Christian Science teaches is Truth itself. We are God’s image and likeness, reflecting Truth by being truthful, honest, and loyal. Thinking that I need to please other people, or accept “polarized politics” as a god, instead of the God that is Truth and Love, can keep me from being true to myself. Understanding this helps me regain my spiritual perspective and the ability to find practical solutions to problems, and a way to move forward, past the politics and fear.

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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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