How do we bridge the political divide?
For me, the beginnings of an answer appeared in a simple statement that anyone, anywhere on the political spectrum can follow: Let civility be your guide. Civility, both in thought and speech, may seem like a given when it comes to reaching across party lines. But how do we activate this quality when “negative partisanship” seems so all-pervasive – not just in political ads, but also on social media?
I’ve found that qualities such as compassion and genuine love are necessary to promote civility – and my study of Christian Science has taught me that our expression of these naturally increases in our lives when we understand the loving nature of God.
The Bible states that “God is love” (I John 4:8), and the creation cannot be unlike the creator. It follows, then, that as children of divine Love, our own nature must be loving and benevolent, and not prone to destructive or hostile behavior. And because we are in the embrace of God’s universal presence, nothing truly exists but Love and its manifestation – infinitely diverse, but universally characterized and supported by Love.
The implications of perceiving this are profound – though it requires a commitment on our part to rise above the fray, political or otherwise, and to look deeply into Love’s pure reality.
I saw the healing effects of doing so when I was thrust into a work project with someone who seemed to be on the opposite side of the political spectrum – at least as far as office politics was concerned. Though I was always civil and worked hard to find common ground, it bothered me that inside I felt antagonistic toward this individual. His views seemed irreconcilable with mine. And though the project made progress, I didn’t feel it was coming together as well as it could.
One day it became clear to me that God, divine Love, doesn’t have two sides because God is One, indivisible. He knows only His own infinite individuality – harmony expressed as unity.
As a musician, I found this idea tangible and beautiful. I thought of the notes in a chord: individual, but blending perfectly according to the principles of music. The divine Principle, Love, holds its own ideas eternally in the same kind of productive, harmonious relation to one another.
In prayer, I turned away from thoughts of conflicting agendas and challenging personalities, away from the clash of wills and flaring passions, and affirmed that Love’s harmonious being, in which we are all included, was the only reality. Gradually, I felt a shift taking place in my thought. Instead of reacting to what this other person said, I was turning to God to understand what Love was expressing in its ideas, and how Love was governing.
As a result, I began to understand my co-worker’s communications in a new light. I guess you could say that I started to hear what he was really saying – which wasn’t always apparent by the words he used, but which I became attuned to as I saw both of us as included in, and expressing, the Principle of harmonious being. The project came together quickly after that, and with a depth and artistry that I hadn’t thought possible. In the end, we found more than common ground; we found an inspired solution that blessed everyone.
Civility in political discourse – or across any kind of perceived divide – is a necessary and helpful first step in changing the tone of the conversation. But we have the assurance that something even greater awaits us. Here’s the promise in the words of Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science: “‘Let there be light,’ is the perpetual demand of Truth and Love, changing chaos into order and discord into the music of the spheres” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 255).
As we understand more clearly that nothing within Love can ever be antagonistic – because how could Love be divided against itself? – we’ll witness the dawn of true unity and the progress that naturally results.
Adapted from a Christian Science Perspective article published June 3, 2015.