Talking about politics can be scary! The challenge with many political conversations is that they seem to come down to who’s right and who’s wrong – as though that’s more important than anything else.
But what if political conversations could have a deeper purpose? I had a real aha moment about this several years ago. I was spending the evening with a friend, and our conversation somehow turned into a heated political debate. He quickly became angry with me, and though I tried reasoning with a lot of different points that I thought would reach him, none did. While I wasn’t getting angry in return, I was feeling quite intimidated.
Finally, I decided to stop trying to think of what to say next or to reason with his vastly different viewpoint. In that space of mental quietness, a new idea occurred to me: I was not in this discussion to try to change someone’s mind, or to validate anyone’s opinion, including my own. My job was to be a healer.
As I am a Christian Scientist, the idea of being a healer wasn’t a new one to me. In fact, this was often the way I’d approached other situations in my life – just never political conversations! So how did it apply here?
Christian Science discoverer Mary Baker Eddy’s words about healers gave me some insight. For example, she wrote, “That individual is the best healer who asserts himself the least, and thus becomes a transparency for the divine Mind...” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 59). In this passage, as in all her writings, “Mind” refers to God, the infinite source of inspiration and goodness.
If my job was to let Mind, God, divine good, shine through me and my conversation, that meant I didn’t have to sift through my mental database of political facts. Instead, I could let God “be with [my] mouth” (Exodus 4:12). In getting my own opinions out of the way, I was making space for God’s healing ideas to take center stage.
So, at an appropriate pause, I opened my mouth, and this is what came out: “Here’s what I actually think: I want to live a life that contributes to a world where this issue is no longer an issue. Until then, I just don’t think I have anything to add.” I didn’t feel the need to elaborate or to try to convince him of anything.
Well, my friend seemed a little stunned. Because I was no longer trying to argue a position, there was nothing for his arguments to stick to. But he seemed to agree that it was time to move on. And yes, we stayed good friends.
Now you might be wondering, “What’s healing about that? You just opened your mouth and said something, and the conversation moved on.” But actually, that moment was pretty incredible: You could feel all the tension and aggression go out of the room, and all that remained was a genuine appreciation for each other as individuals, rather than members of different political parties. I should also mention that we have since had further political conversations, and they have always been characterized by appreciation for what each person was bringing to the table. There has definitely been healing in our relationship!
We all can learn from productive, open, honest engagement with each other. To actually find solutions that transcend party lines, however, it is helpful to start from a standpoint of healing. The specific words we say, or the way we let God fill our mouth, may be different from one situation to another. But when we feel ourselves letting go of the need to assert ourselves – expressed through pushing a certain opinion or carefully constructed argument – and instead let ourselves be a witness to infinite, intelligent Mind in action, that’s being a healer.
With healing as our starting point, we can begin to see that there is room for marvelous diversity in the universe ordered by God, and that no one’s progress can come at another’s expense. We’ll also find that even the smallest conversation can provide an opportunity for God’s love for all of us to shine through. Divine Love is the unifying power that truly does govern everyone and brings inspired solutions to light.