Reaching agreement – without antipathy

A former lawyer who has seen many key government decisions being discussed and, at times, disputed, explores the idea that we are all capable of facing down willfulness and animosity, which hamper progress, by listening for God’s guidance.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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The meeting hadn’t gone as planned. The expectation had been that a long-awaited decision would finally be made. It was not. And the atmosphere of the meeting had become increasingly uncomfortable.

When I woke up the following morning, I found myself thinking, “That was a difficult meeting.” Then part of a verse from a poem I love came to thought, and I saw things in a much more uplifting way. It’s by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, and it says, “Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear/ No ill ...” (“Poems,” p. 4).

I thought, “That’s just fine. If a further period of time is needed to work out a solution, I can use that additional time to ‘love more.’”

As I lay in bed I also thought about what the “ills” might be in the context of the meeting. I realized that these might include fear, doubt, uncertainty as to what the right next steps might be, unhappiness, frustration, and so on. Then, and just as clearly as I had seen that I could “love more,” I saw that one doesn’t need to fear these ills, because God’s love is more powerful. In the light of the allness and everywhereness of God, who is good, fear and doubt have no legitimate power.

With this I began my day uplifted and joyful.

When major decisions are required, they can evoke strong feelings – antipathy and, at times, even hatred. However, Christian Science has helped me understand that in any given situation we do have the ability to face down a personal, willful sense of what needs to be done, because there is a divine intelligence governing us all.

This was brought out powerfully for me last year. I was at home doing some routine housework and reflecting on a particularly happy time in my life, when, with no effort on my part and like a warm summer breeze wafting across a beach or into a room, my thinking was transformed. It’s not at all easy to put into words, but I felt that I was being guided and led by an infinite divine intelligence that pervades all space. From my study and practice of Christian Science I knew that this tangibly present intelligence was the divine Mind, a synonym for God.

The thoughts that came to me were calm, loving, and gentle. I felt a wonderful sense of being “myself” – my true spiritual self – and was deeply at peace. This assurance of my spiritual identity as a child of God was accompanied by a sense of real dominion and a deep, deep tenderness.

This gentle, intelligent outlook remained with me all day, even when I was spoken to harshly later in the day: I just couldn’t react in kind.

The follow-up to the uncomfortable and inconclusive meeting was markedly different, with a great degree of respect, even caring, being shown by all participants. It was a significant shift.

There’s a well-known song included in the “Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430-603” that speaks to this peace and guidance. The first verse says:

Let there be peace on earth,
   and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
   the peace that was meant to be.
With God our creator, we are family.
Let us walk with each other
   in perfect harmony.
(Jill Jackson, alt., No. 521)

Even at times when we may least be expecting it, God’s gentle but clear guidance is always with us to tenderly lead us forward in ways we can feel, understand, and tangibly experience.

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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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