2019
February
13
Wednesday

Andreas Guske knows his solution is imperfect. The German police officer can’t solve the misuse of Facebook to spread disinformation and prejudice.

But when Facebook users in his Bavarian town of Traunstein spread a rumor that Muslim refugees had raped an 11-year-old girl in a pedestrian underpass, he and some of his colleagues had a novel response: They traced how the rumor started and then visited everyone who had reposted it.

All but one removed or corrected their posts, according to a New York Times report. “Police departments should do this more,” said an expert. “It’s kind of great.”

Farther north, the economic plan that helped saved the town of Vechta is not a silver bullet, either. Throughout the West, including some parts of Germany, small towns are fading as blue-collar jobs go offshore and white-collar jobs migrate to big cities. But two decades ago, when Germany saw the changing tides of manufacturing, the nation created “hidden champions” – industrial hubs to keep small-town Germany vital and thriving. Today, Vechta’s mayor tells The Economist, “Our problem is that we have no problems.”

No policy solution is ever perfect, and problems are easy to find all around us. But the honest impulses to be fair or thoughtful also have an effect, and when we consent to look, those can be easy to find all around us, too.

Now on to our five stories. We explore an attempt to find a universal chord in US political advocacy, six Arab nations testing a new sense of unity and action, and our always popular monthly book picks.

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1. Can small US liberal arts colleges survive the next decade?

Small colleges symbolize the educational richness available in the United States. But they’re declining, and that speaks to how the country – particularly the Northeast and Midwest – is changing.

Mark
Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
Jonathan Wright, a graduate of Hampshire College and builder of the R.W. Kern Center, walks through the center to work on another project in Amherst, Mass. In a sign of New England’s swiftly evolving higher-education landscape, Hampshire College recently announced its desire to merge with another institution, citing financial strain.

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Hampshire College, an experimental school sitting on about 650 acres of rolling farmland and orchards in Amherst, Mass., and another 150 or so in neighboring Hadley, announced Feb. 1 that, in the face of severe financial difficulties, it will be admitting a freshman class consisting of just 41 early-decision students and another 36 students who deferred admission for one year.

The college, while unique in its approach to higher education, faces many of the same challenges faced by other small liberal-arts colleges in the United States, particularly in the Northeast. Recent closings have included Burlington College in Burlington, Vt., Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y., Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass., and Wheelock College in Boston. 

But Hampshire’s woes have attracted significant attention, perhaps because the school epitomizes many of the qualities that have made small private liberal-arts colleges an attractive option in the past.

Along with Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Hampshire is one of the largest employers in Amherst, a bucolic yet lively town of 40,000 in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley.

“There are hundreds of people who live in the town and hundreds who live in the Valley whose family income comes from Hampshire College,” says Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman. “It has a significant impact on the town.”

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Can small US liberal arts colleges survive the next decade?

The very first lesson Jessamyn West learned upon graduating from Hampshire College in 1990 was one that would foretell the school’s precarious financial position some three decades later.

“When I graduated and grabbed my diploma,” says Ms. West, now a noted librarian, author, and technologist, “the then-president of Hampshire told me how he talked to my dad last week, literally as I’m walking across the stage.”

To West, the president’s message was clear: “Your value is your parents, who paid your tuition,” she says.

West was one of the school’s handful of students who paid full tuition, which at a school that depends on tuition for its operating costs meant “weird perks,” such as getting invited to the president’s house “for some special let’s-drink-champagne-before-noon thing that felt completely inappropriate and awful,” she says. 

And yet her experience at Hampshire was unlike one she could get anywhere else.

“I was not really an outcast in high school, but I didn’t fit in the way I felt like fitting-in people fit in,” says West.

At Hampshire, an experimental school sitting on about 650 acres of rolling farmland and orchards in Amherst, Mass., known for eschewing majors and offering detailed written evaluations instead of grades, West found the intellectual and social nourishment she was seeking.

“I actually kind of wanted someplace where I could just be me and everybody else could be them, too,” says West, who studied linguistics  there. “And Hampshire was like that. And honestly it’s the only time I’ve ever been in a situation like that in my whole life.”

Hampshire, whose current enrollment is 1,120, announced on Feb. 1 that, in the face of severe financial difficulties, it will be admitting a freshman class consisting of just 41 early-decision students and another 36 students who deferred admission for one year. The nearly 50-year-old school, Hampshire President Miriam Nelson announced, would be seeking “a long-term partner that can help us achieve a thriving and sustainable future for Hampshire.”

The college, while unique in its approach to higher education, faces many of the same challenges faced by other small liberal-arts colleges in the United States, particularly in the Northeast. Recent closings have included Burlington College in Burlington, Vt., Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y., Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass., and Wheelock College in Boston.
In March, the College of St. Joseph announced that it would be ceasing instruction at the end of the 2019 spring semester. 

But Hampshire’s woes have attracted significant attention, perhaps because the school epitomizes many of the qualities – small classes, curricular flexibility, a faculty largely committed to teaching as opposed to research – that have made small private liberal-arts colleges an attractive option in the past.

“My colleagues and I have heard from so many far-flung academics who have never set foot on the Hampshire campus but who consider Hampshire very important to the project of the liberal arts in the United States,” writes Christoph Cox, a philosophy professor at Hampshire. “One told a colleague of mine, ‘If we lose Hampshire, we’ve lost the war.’ ”

So far, less than 1 percent of private colleges in the United States have closed in recent years, a failure rate that doesn’t yet confirm Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s dire 2011 prediction that half of the the roughly 4,000 or so colleges and universities in the United States would “be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years.

But the pace of closings is rising, according to a 2018 report from Moody’s that finds colleges are closing at a rate of about 11 per year. Many small schools rely on tuition and operate on razor-thin margins, making them vulnerable to downturns. And as these schools close, downsize, or merge with other institutions, those seeking the specialized-yet-versatile approach that small colleges offer – curricular flexibility, small class sizes, opportunities for cross-disciplinary research – will have to look elsewhere.

A demographic cliff

“I don’t think that small size is intrinsically a problem,” says Will Wootton, the former president of Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vt., and author of “Good Fortune Next Time: Life, Death, Irony, and the Administration of Very Small Colleges.” But, he says, “small institutions cannot weather fiscal downturns like big institutions can.”

One of the big threats facing small schools is demographics. As pointed out by Carleton College social scientist Nathan Grawe in his 2018 book, Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, the population of traditionally college-aged people is set to decline in the Northeast and the Midwest by about 5 percent by the mid-2020s. What’s more, the economic downturn of 2008 led many others to delay starting families. This “birth dearth,” which is set to begin around 2026, could add up to a loss of 15 percent of the typical college-age population. 

The Ivy League schools will undoubtedly survive the demographic shifts, as will other elite schools with large endowments, state schools, and community colleges. But schools with endowments of less than $100 million – Hampshire has about $50 million, compared with nearby Amherst College’s $2.2 billion – are feeling the pinch, according to Moody’s.

But, Mr. Wootton says, small colleges can still thrive if they are nimble – and address a lack of incoming students immediately.

“It’s possible to keep these places going, especially the very small places, because of the local population who needs those colleges,” Wootton says. “They have a great economic impact on their towns and villages.”

‘That’s our identity’

Along with the Amherst College and University of Massachusetts Amherst, the flagship campus of the state system, Hampshire is one of the largest employers in Amherst, a bucolic yet lively town of 40,000 in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley.

“There are hundreds of people who live in the town and hundreds who live in the Valley whose family income comes from Hampshire College,” says Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman. “It has a significant impact on the town.”

Mr. Bockelman, who graduated from Hampshire in 1978, notes that its graduates also have an outsized influence on the region’s economy. “If you looked at Hampshire grads as being part of the Valley and being entrepreneurial in the Valley, you’ll see a much higher proportion than the other colleges.”

He attributes this entrepreneurial spirit – a quarter of Hampshire graduates start their own businesses or nonprofits – to the way the school requires students to create their own courses of study by, for instance, not offering predefined majors.

“You have to be self-motivated,” he says. “And that’s why a lot of students don’t succeed, because they’re used to being in a sort of lockstep version of high school, and that’s what a lot of colleges have become.”

Beyond Hampshire’s economic footprint, the school plays a special role in shaping the identity of the surrounding towns. Hampshire, which admitted its first class in 1970, was formed out a partnership between four other schools in the region – Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Smith College in Northampton, Amherst College, and UMass Amherst – to create the Five College Consortium.

The academic collaboration quickly entered the Valley’s popular consciousness, inspiring the names of several businesses, including a realtor, a moving company, a credit union, and a farm that specializes in heirloom tomatoes. The Five Colleges also serve as an origin story for the characters of Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Gang that, sadly, turns out to be an urban legend.

“We think of ourselves as being from the Five College area,” says Bockelman, “and the town of Amherst takes great pride in having three high-quality institutions of higher education. That’s our identity. And potentially if we were to lose one of those partners, it would be devastating.”

The ultimate cause of Hampshire’s problems, says Bockelman, is America’s widening class disparity. “Higher education is in crisis, and it's become unaffordable to many people,” he says. “And it seems to be moving toward the income inequality that’s really hit a lot of the population in general in terms of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.”

‘I’m not going to close’

The walls of Global Cuts International World of Barber Styling, near Hampshire’s campus, are covered with heroes photographed during some of their most iconic moments. Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston in 1965. Julius Erving defending himself against Larry Bird on the court in 1984. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shaking hands with Malcolm X in 1964. The Four Tops. The Jackson 5.

But the most prominent item on the wall is a huge laminated map of the world, with pins showing each customer’s hometown. Much of the United States and Europe is covered. Same goes for sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. A few pins stand in more remote places, like Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Owner Khayyam Mahdi admits that his cosmopolitan barbershop seems incongruous amid Amherst’s fields and orchards, but, for all its rural New England charm, this town’s cultural currents have long been shaped by the regular influx of students and faculty from around the world. “You would expect a place like this in New York City,” Mr. Mahdi says.

Mahdi estimates that about a third of his customers are Hampshire students. When they visit, Mahdi hopes that they get more than just a haircut. “This is a place where relationships are made,” he says.

Despite Hampshire’s troubles, Mahdi remains optimistic about his shop’s future. “I’m not going to close because they got shut down,” says Mr. Mahdi. “We’re global.”

‘We all missed the window’

For most of Hampshire’s 400 full-time and 50 part-time workers, the announcement that the school wouldn’t be admitting a full-size freshman class in September came as a shock, as it would mean steep layoffs before the beginning of next semester.  

For teaching faculty, the announcement came in the off-cycle in the job market, as applications for positions are typically due in November and December. Most of those laid off on June 30 will have to wait more than a year to begin working again in a comparable position.

“We all missed the window to apply for other jobs that start this fall,” says a Hampshire professor who requested anonymity so as not to prejudice any future employers. “It leaves all of us and our families in desperate situations that we never saw coming.”

Many college professors spend six or seven years obtaining a doctoral degree, followed by several years of postdocs and modestly paid teaching jobs before attaining anything resembling job security, if they ever do so. For those who do, being suddenly hurled back into the academic job market can be daunting.

“A lot of the professors that I talk to are really having a hard time finding work,” says Darcy Daniels, who worked as an adjunct professor of history at Mount Ida College before the school suddenly closed last year. “My former department chair called me into his office, and he asked if I could help him create a LinkedIn account. He was a 20-year tenured professor.”

Ms. Daniels, who is now teaching social studies at a boarding school in Braintree, Mass., considers herself relatively fortunate among her peers, some of whom are considering leaving academia altogether. “In a lot of ways,” she says, “Mount Ida traumatized them.”

For the students of colleges that close after they graduate, it can feel like an important link is broken. Nicole Muschinski, who majored in environmental studies and sociology/anthropology at Green Mountain College, was in Amsterdam last year when she got the news that her alma mater would be closing its doors. “I was surprised, but at the same time I was not,” says Ms. Muschinski, who had been aware that the school had been experiencing financial problems.

Muschinski, who says she just started working “very part time” for Missouri Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that promotes religious response to climate change, says that her school’s closing comes at a time when the world needs more schools like it. “We need places that offer education in sustainability and in environmental studies and environmental justice,” she says. “The fact that it can’t stay open because it can’t afford to stay open is really unfortunate.”

“This hit everybody out of the blue,” says a business owner near Green Mountain College whose establishment is heavily patronized by students and their parents. “It’s definitely going to affect my business.”

The owner, who asked to remain anonymous, lamented the lack of communication between the college and the town in the years leading up to Green Mountain’s closure.

For Wootton, vulnerable schools might seek financial safety in numbers: “In other words, partnerships. Partnerships with equals.”

Partnering with peers was Hampshire’s original plan, and today the school hopes to partner with a more financially secure institution, although none have so far stepped forward.

“I’m hopeful that Hampshire will be the bellwether for the model for how small colleges can survive going into the future,” says Bockelman. “If any college can transform to take on the challenges of higher education, it’s Hampshire College.”

[Editor's note: An earlier version misstated the year that Ms. West graduated from Hampshire College, where classes are named for the year they matriculate, not the year they graduate.]
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the closing of the College of St. Joseph.]

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2. A candidate’s message for Nigerian politics: Make way for women

Women hold just a sliver of power in Nigeria, and barriers to political participation remain entrenched. But a young generation that came of age after Nigeria’s transition to democracy is challenging that.

Mark
Ryan Lenora Brown/The Christian Science Monitor
Zainab Umar (c.), a candidate for the state House of Assembly in Kano, Nigeria, talks with local women. If elected, she would be the assembly’s first female member.

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Since the 1990s, Africa has helped lead the way for women in government. Women occupy more than 30 percent of legislative seats in 14 of the continent’s countries. But in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, women hold less than 7 percent of political offices.

That hasn’t stopped Zainab Umar, age 26, who is running for state assembly in elections this Saturday. If anything, it drives her. She has more male competitors named Abdullahi than female competitors, period.

On Feb. 16, when Nigerians go to the polls, few of the candidates will be women. And, like Ms. Umar, the challenges they find along the campaign trail illustrate broader struggles of breaking into politics in Africa’s largest democracy. From strict party hierarchies to two-party dominance to vote-buying and sky-high candidate-registration fees, it’s a system that’s especially daunting for outsiders – all the more so when they’re subject to sexist taunts.

But Umar does have one advantage. As she treks across her district, she’s free to enter women-only spaces, like family compounds. “She’s the first candidate to come inside and talk to us,” says Fatima Umar, who says she believes she is about 70 years old.

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A candidate’s message for Nigerian politics: Make way for women

As she made her way along a lumpy dirt road clutching a stack of her own campaign flyers, Zainab Umar considered the odds against her.

In the entire 40-year history of the local House of Assembly here, in the most populous state in Nigeria’s north, a woman has never been elected as a member. In her own crowded race, there are more men named Abdullahi than there are women. Of the 32 candidates, just two are female.

And in many races here, Ms. Umar suspected, the campaigns hardly counted, anyway. In the days before elections, for as long as she could remember, candidates for the two major parties rode into her neighborhood in their clean, expensive cars doling out little bags of salt, thick wedges of soap, and crisp 1000 naira bills ($3).

But as she made her way into a mud-brick compound on the fringes of the city last Friday, she shoved the thought out of her head, plastered a smile on her face, and prepared to explain, for the hundredth time that day, who she was and why she was there.

“To make a difference for people, you first have to get a seat at the table,” says Umar, tucking a stray wisp of hair into her pink and blue head wrap. “And getting elected is how you get a seat at that table.”

In Nigeria, which is barreling toward a Feb. 16 general election and March 2 local elections, women hold only a tiny sliver – less than 7 percent – of political offices. That places it in the bottom 5 percent of countries globally.

And the figure seems to be holding, stubbornly. On a continent with some of the world’s most gender-balanced parliaments and in a country with a powerful class of female entrepreneurs, artists, and journalists, fewer than 10 percent of the leading two parties’ candidates for the national legislature in this election cycle are women. Neither one is fielding a woman for president or vice president. 

It’s a statistic that underscores the daunting odds of breaking into politics in Africa’s largest democracy – not just for women but for anyone not drawn from the country’s small and protective political elite.

“In the major parties, it’s not about democracy. It’s about who you know and how much money you have,” says Eunice Atuejide, a lawyer and one of 73 candidates in this year’s presidential race. Like all five of the women in that race, Ms. Ateujide is running under the banner of the small, largely unknown National Interest Party, which she co-founded in 2017. It’s part of an alphabet soup of several dozen tiny parties trying to wrest power from the country’s two political titans, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its main challenger and former ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Bucking the trend

But in Nigeria’s first-past-the-post system, these scrappy challengers don’t stand much of a chance in most races. Clawing one’s way up the APC and PDP hierarchies, meanwhile, can be tedious and expensive, and it doesn’t often reward outsiders. Between 1999 and 2015, for instance, 46 percent of all women elected to the Nigerian senate were the wife or daughter of a prominent male politician, according to a tally by Ayisha Osori, a longtime gender-equality activist and the author of “Love Does Not Win Elections,” a memoir of her unsuccessful 2014 primary campaign for the National Assembly.

Just submitting one’s name for a primary in one of the major parties, meanwhile, can cost tens of thousands of dollars, even with the heavy discounts given to female candidates.

That means that the major parties are still largely “old boys clubs,” says Oby Ezekwesili, a former government minister and prominent civil society activist who recently dropped out of the presidential race. “We either need to institute gender quotas, or we’ll be left to depend on the occasional fortune of a [female] leader who can break through.”

Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters
Oby Ezekwesili speaks during a news conference on the abducted Dapchi and Chibok girls in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 13, 2018. Ms. Ezekwesili, a former government minister and prominent activist, recently dropped out of Nigeria's presidential race.

So far, though, Nigeria has resisted the wave of quotas that has swept much of the continent since the 1990s. In 14 African countries, women now occupy more than 30 percent of the seats in legislatures, a crucial threshold for collective decisionmaking. A bill that would have instituted such a quota in Nigeria has ping-ponged through branches of the legislature for nearly a decade without being signed into law.

It isn’t that Nigeria is necessarily a more sexist place than countries with quotas, says Amanda Edgell, a political science PhD candidate at the University of Florida who has written about gender quotas and foreign aid in African politics. But many countries in the region have used gender quotas, at least in part, to signal to their donors that they are modern and progressive. And Nigeria, with its status as an oil producer and key partner in the regional war on terror, has long been more immune to those kinds of pressures, she notes.

Meanwhile, with few discernible differences in platform between the two major parties, individual personalities dominate many races here. And clout is often based on social status, says Ndi Kato, a member of the presidential campaign council for the PDP and a one-time aspirant for a PDP nomination for a state assembly seat in Kaduna. “As a young woman, both your gender and your age are working against you in those situations,” she says.

Extra scrutiny

But that hasn’t stopped women like Umar, who at 26 is part of a generation of Nigerian women who have grown up in the shadow of the country’s 1999 transition to democracy. Now young adults, many are tired of waiting for the system to catch up with the size of their political aspirations.

Umar was born and raised here in Kano, an ancient walled city in the country’s Muslim north, where men have long dominated public life.

But that is not to say she didn’t know strong women. Far from it, she says. It was just that they were rarely allowed to be strong in the conventional ways that men were.

Instead, theirs was a quiet defiance, like her single mother’s brusque, no-nonsense plan for her children’s future. She hadn’t been able to finish school, she said, but they would. She sold rice and oil at the market, she said, but they would have degrees, even the girls.

Especially the girls.

Ryan Lenora Brown/The Christian Science Monitor
Zainab Umar (center), who hopes to become the first woman in the House of Assembly in the Nigerian state of Kano, conducts a door-to-door campaign in her constituency Feb. 8, 2019.

As Umar marched through her teenage years, she watched her friends peel off one by one to get married, at 12 and 13 and 16. By the time she graduated, just 20 of her 67 classmates were women.

But she carried on. During university, as she studied chemistry, she also threw herself headlong into student politics. By her second year, she was student body vice president. By the time she graduated, she was readying herself to run to be a city councilor. (In the end, she failed to secure the APC nomination for the seat.)

That was when the comments began.

She’s a whore.

She’s not a good Muslim.

What kind of family lets their daughter run around like this?

It was a nastiness familiar to almost any woman who has run for office in Nigeria.

“Politics here is dirty,” says Ateujide. “A lot of women, no matter how qualified they are, don’t want to subject themselves to that level of violence and insults.”

And for many with aspirations to change the world, the payoff of politics is unclear, says Ms. Osori.

“Politics in Nigeria isn’t, in general, a place for service; it’s a place for looting,” she says. “So while I support women’s right to be involved in the system, I don’t know that it’s the way we will change our society as long as politics itself is largely about individual wealth and power.”

‘It’s the time for a woman’

But Umar can’t imagine another way she could affect so many people’s lives. So for the past two months she has spent most days trudging door to door across Kumbotso, a sprawling district of Kano, trying to convince people to listen to her pitch: that she’ll clean up open sewers clotted with garbage and buy chairs for local primary schools.

She does have one distinctive advantage. While her male adversaries can meet potential voters only in public places – under the shade of the local baobab tree, for instance, or gathered on a street corner chewing and spitting hunks of sugar cane – Umar freely enters the women-only space of family compounds. There, she tut-tuts at babies and helps women pound yams as she explains how to press your thumbprint into the ballot just so to prevent a smudge.

“She’s the first candidate to come inside and talk to us,” says Fatima Umar, who says she believes she is about 70 years old. “When I was young there was not even a single school here. But now you see women educated like men. I’m happy this has happened.”

It’s not a universal sentiment, of course. “I wouldn’t vote for a woman, never,” says Ahmed Muhammad, a college student in Umar’s district. “They’re not strong. They’re not as intelligent as men.” Forty-five percent of Nigerians believe that men are “better political leaders than women,” according to a 2017 Afrobarometer opinion survey.

A few blocks away from the street corner where Mr. Muhammad gathered with friends, Umar was busy fielding call after call on her smartphone. The DJ for tomorrow’s campaign event wanted to know what time he should come. The campaign’s social media manager asked if Umar had recorded her daily video for her followers.

Each time her smartphone lit up with another call, it blasted the song she had commissioned for her campaign.

Make way, make way, a voice crooned in Hausa, the local language.

She’s coming.

It’s the time for a woman.

Make way.

***

Muhammad Reza Suleiman contributed reporting to this story.

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3. Outdoor gear with a side of politics: More retailers embrace activism

Amid the surge of political advocacy in the United States, several outdoor brands are putting their money behind a simple idea: Perhaps some things can bring together everyone who loves nature.

Mark

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This week, in a show of bipartisan support for public lands, the Senate voted to set aside 1.3 million acres of wilderness in the American West. Outdoor outfitters have long profited from the universal love of nature. In recent years, however, they have been trying to flip the script, taking an activist lead on environmental causes.

When President Trump moved to drastically reduce two national monuments in Utah in late 2017, individual companies – including some that serve more conservative-leaning hunters and anglers – became vocal about the need to protect public lands. More recently, the industry has begun to rally collectively around climate action, an issue with a sharper partisan divide. At the January Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Denver, three of the industry’s largest trade groups announced the formation of the Outdoor Business Climate Partnership, dedicated to climate advocacy.

In such a polarized political climate, there’s certainly a risk involved. But several advocates say they hope that the action they’re taking will help bridge some of the partisan divides in the United States by focusing on shared values. “When you come across someone on a trail, you don’t think about what party they’re in,” says Peter Bragdon of Columbia Sportswear.

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Outdoor gear with a side of politics: More retailers embrace activism

When Columbia Sportswear took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post denouncing the government shutdown last month, it wasn’t the result of a long deliberation.

“That one came more from the heart,” says Peter Bragdon, Columbia’s chief administrative officer and general counsel. The “Make America’s parks open again” ad came together in a few hours, as the result of what he describes as “strong feelings about something that needed to be addressed.”

Columbia was just the latest outdoor-gear company to speak out on issues such as public lands and climate change, in some cases taking on President Trump directly.

While environmental advocacy is hardly new to many of these companies, the industry as a whole is becoming an increasingly important player on a number of hot-button topics.

It’s less clear that such advocacy from retail companies actually changes minds, but experts say it reflects a shifting landscape in which both consumers and employees expect companies to offer up values along with their products, and to stake out a position of leadership on causes important to them.

“A part of what you see is this larger movement in the US, where there’s this expectation that companies will have a certain value set and will speak out,” says Amy Roberts, the executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). She points to one survey that shows that 76 percent of consumers think CEOs should take the lead on issues such as the environment, equal pay, and personal data.

‘The president stole your land’

For the outdoor industry, the first real flexing of collective muscle came in 2017, when Mr. Trump moved to drastically reduce two national monuments in Utah, in part due to pressure from some Utah lawmakers. The industry responded by moving its lucrative trade show from Salt Lake City, where it had always been held, to Denver.

Individual companies – including some that tend to serve more conservative hunters and anglers – became vocal about the need to protect public lands. And the day after Trump announced his decision to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments, Patagonia replaced its home page with an all-black background and the stark message, “The president stole your land.” Whether that decision holds up is still being decided by the courts – including through a lawsuit filed by Patagonia.

Public lands are a natural and relatively safe area, politically, for outdoor retailers to focus their attention on. Outdoor outfitters have long profited from a universal love of nature. Their customers, regardless of political views, inherently value spending time outdoors. 

“When you come across someone on a trail, you don’t think about what party they’re in,” says Mr. Bragdon of Columbia.

The near-universal appeal of protecting public lands was on display Tuesday when the Senate voted 92 to 8 on a sweeping public lands bill that sets aside 1.3 million acres of wilderness in the American West, among other provisions. 

Douglas C. Pizac/AP/File
The Trump administration's 2017 decision to reduce the size of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, seen here, ignited an activist spark among many outdoor equipment and apparel brands.

More recently, the industry has begun to rally collectively around climate action, an issue with a clearer partisan divide. At the January Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Denver, three of the industry’s largest trade groups – OIA, SnowSports Industries America, and the National Ski Areas Association – announced the formation of the Outdoor Business Climate Partnership, dedicated to climate advocacy.

A few ski areas have already been actively campaigning for climate action, both on their own and through the Protect Our Winters coalition.

“We’ve always thought that climate change was the essential problem facing the ski industry,” says Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability for Aspen Snowmass. It became clear that efforts to reduce the climate footprints of individual resorts would be just a drop in the bucket, but that effort could be amplified through advocacy and education.

At Aspen, Schendler notes, one of the biggest points of leverage is the high-influence, high-wealth customers who frequent the resort. “We could just run a ski resort,” he says. “We’re choosing to make them a little bit uncomfortable in order to leverage power.”

But will customers respond?

In such a polarized political climate, there’s certainly a risk involved. When retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has a subsidiary dedicated to hunting and fishing, announced it would restrict its gun sales in the wake of the Parkland shooting, there was a backlash from some customers. It’s not hard to find calls to boycott Patagonia among conservative corners of the internet, and after the company’s “The president stole your land” message, the Republican-led House Committee on Natural Resources mocked the message in a tweet of its own: “Patagonia is lying to you.”

But when it comes to advocating for climate action in general, many Americans may see it as a natural place for outdoor companies to get involved, says Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy network at Ceres, a nonprofit that encourages and tracks corporate actions on sustainability.

“All companies have a vested interest in solving climate change, but for [outdoor outfitters] it’s more immediate,” says Ms. Kelly. “They’re our outdoor first responders.”

Of course, it’s not clear how effective any corporate advocacy is. A 2018 Morning Consult survey showed that consumers increasingly want companies to take a stand on certain issues. But in the same survey, a majority of respondents also said they believe they’ve purchased items from a company whose views they disagree with.

And while the numbers of the outdoor industry may be impressive – 7.6 million American jobs and $887 billion in annual consumer spending – it doesn’t have the sort of clout of traditional big-spending groups like the National Rifle Association or the energy lobby.

But the industry’s biggest lever may be its interface with such a wide swath of Americans.

That became particularly evident in the debate about national monuments. Patagonia and like-minded companies played a big role in mobilizing consumers to submit public comments. In the end, thanks in large part to that effort, more than a million comments were submitted to the Department of the Interior, nearly all of them in favor of keeping monuments intact. “That’s where the real grassroots power is,” says Ms. Roberts of the OIA.

For some, leveraging that power is proving to be good for business.

“Our business has grown since we’ve doubled down on our advocacy,” says Corley Kenna, Patagonia’s communications director.

In select instances, such advocacy may have helped to change the political discussion.

Patagonia took the rare step in the 2018 elections of endorsing two Senate candidates directly, in Montana and Nevada. Both candidates won in narrow elections, and in endorsing Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s bid for reelection, Patagonia helped thrust the issue of public lands to the fore, says Ms. Kenna.

“His opponent, who had not been an advocate of public lands, had to switch his position,” she says. “If we can build that kind of public lands constituency across the country, not just in the West, then I think we’ll make inroads.”

Indeed, several advocates say they hope that the action they’re taking will help bridge some of the partisan divides in the United States.

“There’s an opportunity to bring people together who are otherwise polarized, by being reasonable about some of these things that are shared values,” says Columbia's Bragdon. “I don’t know who can be against parks.”

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Briefing

4. In Arab world, a new alliance is on the rise: Meet the Big 6

As the United States asserts itself less in the Middle East, Arab nations are asserting themselves more. This Briefing explains how six US-friendly nations are banding together and what it could mean.

Mark

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An alliance of six Sunni Arab states is stepping up as a leading actor in the Middle East as a response to shrinking US influence in the region. The informal alliance – we’ll call them the Big 6 – has a voice on issues ranging from postwar Syria to diplomatic overtures on the Yemen and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. All six states – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and Egypt – are traditional US allies.

First and foremost, the Big 6 seek to act as a bulwark against Iran. They are also united in their unease over Turkey’s “meddling” in the Arab world. They have been using their combined wealth, influence, and ties with the West to pressure Arab governments and political groups to follow their agenda and distance themselves from Iran and Turkey.

“Although no one says it directly and it is never announced, these Arab states are acting as one unified group,” says one insider. “If you are in their favor, they will all support you and embrace you; if you do not live up to their expectations, you will be blocked by all.”

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In Arab world, a new alliance is on the rise: Meet the Big 6

Across the Middle East, from Iraq to North Africa, a new informal alignment of Sunni Arab countries is quietly influencing developments.

The alliance – comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and Egypt – is stepping up as a leading actor in the Arab world with a voice on issues ranging from postwar Syria and the thwarting of Iran to diplomatic overtures on the Yemen and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

It’s doing so at a time when the United States is more inward-looking and less engaged in the region and when the Saudis themselves have experienced a public fall from grace in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The grouping has no official name – people refer to them verbally as “the six states” or the “big states” or the “six big states.” Let’s call them the Big 6. On the surface, it is the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, minus Qatar and Oman but with the addition of Jordan and Egypt.

Each member brings unique strengths: Saudi Arabia offers the leverage of its oil wealth and religious custodianship of Mecca and Medina; the UAE is a global economic power with an advanced military and oil and gas wealth; Bahrain and Kuwait have vast wealth and investments across the region; Jordan is a geographic and cultural gateway to the Levant; and Egypt is the most populous Arab country, home to 25 percent of all Arab citizens.

What is behind this new alliance?

Chiefly Iran and its influence in Arab states. The Big 6 is first and foremost a Sunni Arab coalition that seeks to act as a bulwark against Iran, coordinate Arab foreign policy, and prevent the encroaching influence of non-Arab regional actors such as Turkey. All six states, to varying degrees, have been wary of increased Iranian influence in the Arab world since the 2003 Iraq war – a concern that became an alarm with Iran’s military presence in Syria following the outbreak of the 2011 civil war. Members see what they call a “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and even Yemen encircling them. More concerning is the installation by pro-Iranian militias in these countries of ballistic missiles with the ability to hit Arab capitals.

These states are also united in their unease over Turkey’s “meddling” in the Arab world, with many seeing Turkey as a regional rival looking to revive its Ottoman Empire glory. Gulf states have not forgiven nor forgotten Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s support for Islamist opposition groups that challenged their monarchies, while Egypt protests the Turkish government’s ongoing harboring of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood exiles. The bloc also supports the ongoing blockade of Qatar over what they claim is an unwillingness to take stances against Iran and Turkey.

Is the alliance a military power?

Not strictly, no. The Big 6 have been using their combined wealth, influence, oil, diplomacy, patronage networks, and ties with the West to pressure and cajole Arab governments, political groups, militias, and even tribesmen to follow their agenda and distance themselves from Iran and Turkey. They are applying lessons learned from the disastrous war in Yemen, a military venture by Saudi Arabia launched in the belief that aggressive posturing and military strikes would deter Iran’s regional ambitions. Four years later, with over $100 billion spent and no end in sight to what has become a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, these Arab states now believe that quiet diplomacy, economic pressure, and the carrot of oil wealth and investments can slowly win over and isolate Iran’s patrons in Arab states. It is the adoption of a long game of winning hearts and pocketbooks rather than a quick and violent uprooting of Iranian influence. That being said, Gulf militarization is not slowing down out of the belief that no carrot is complete without a big stick.

Are they influential?

Although this informal group’s impact may not be visible from the West, on the ground in the Arab world its sway is dramatic. After Saudi Arabia and the UAE gave their blessing to the formation of the Iraqi government in January, Jordan’s King Abdullah visited Baghdad. Iraq’s neighbor signed a series of deals to cut fees on Iraqi goods imported through Jordan and to establish free trade agreements and industrial areas to create thousands of jobs in Iraq.

The Big 6’s coordinated approach can also be seen at work in Syria, where the group decided to bring Bashar al-Assad in from the cold after seven years of failing to topple the Syrian president. Within a month of the UAE reopening its embassy in Syria last December, Bahrain and Kuwait followed, while Jordan sent a chargé d’affaires to Damascus for the first time in five years. With the green light, investors, contractors, and business owners from these six states have been holding discussions with the Syrian government; the national air carriers of these states are preparing to renew flights to Syria.

It is part of a coordinated strategy, insiders say; should President Assad provide proof he is reducing Iranian influence in his country, the bloc will continue to offer normalization and funds. If he fails to take confidence-building measures, the six are expected to freeze relations at a moment’s notice. “Although no one says it directly and it is never announced, these Arab states are acting as one unified group,” says one insider. “If you are in their favor, they will all support you and embrace you; if you do not live up to their expectations, you will be blocked by all.”

How does this affect the US?

It is unclear as long as US Mideast policy remains unclear. All six states are traditional US allies who host either strategic US military bases or operate closely with American forces. Washington has shared economic and security interests with these members; individually, each has reliable track records of supporting and promoting US policy in the region. However, the Big 6 was formed largely as a response to the shrinking American influence in the region and the reluctance of the Obama and now Trump administrations to take strong action against Iran and its proxies beyond diplomatic and economic sanctions. Ideally, the Big 6 creates a more unified Arab actor with which to coordinate US policy in the region, ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran. But once Washington’s policies conflict with the interests of the Big 6, this bloc’s go-at-it-alone approach could pose real headaches for the US administration.

Can the Big 6 be a partner for peace?

Possibly. For weeks, insiders say four Gulf countries in the bloc – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain – have been considering officially normalizing ties with Israel in return for united pressure on Iran and concessions for the Palestinians. Such an agreement, coordinated in part with the Palestinian Authority, would be brokered by Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel. With Saudi Arabia desperate to wind down its war in Yemen, the group is also looking for ways to reach a face-saving settlement to the conflict, with bloc member Jordan hosting the second round of UN-sponsored peace talks. The Big 6 has also been playing a behind-the-scenes role in trying to leverage a stable outcome to the political and military stalemate in Libya. The key question remains whether this new bloc of Arab states will heed the mistakes of Riyadh’s aggressive military policy and continue their consensus-based pragmatic approach to contain Iran or whether an unintended escalation will push them, and the Arab world, toward military conflict.

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Books

5. February’s 10 great reads to break the winter doldrums

The highlights of this month include novels about a royal wedding gown and candlepin bowling, plus a memoir about rescuing shipwrecked migrants. 

Mark
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February’s 10 great reads to break the winter doldrums

Here are the 10 books that impressed the Monitor's book critics this month:

 

1  Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

Kin Stewart is a time-traveling secret agent with a heart of gold who got lost on a mission and created a family. Intelligent, caring characters in an amusingly crafted debut novel that packs an emotional wallop as Kin races across time to save his daughter. Mike Chen’s science fiction adventure is convincing and truly wonderful.

2  We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

The transforming power of lovingkindness reverberates throughout Frances Liardet’s enthralling novel, which deals with two generations touched by wartime in a small English village in the 1940s. Newlywed Ellen Parr rescues a spirited 4-year-old girl in an air raid who captures her heart and changes her life. With beautiful prose and historical authenticity, this story embraces a community with an indomitable spirit.

3  The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The royal wedding of England’s then-Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten in postwar London brought a glimmer of light to a dark time. Jennifer Robson’s novel is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Elizabeth’s gorgeous wedding gown and its talented embroiderers. It tells of three generations of women overcoming adversity, and honors the strengthening power of friendship and art. It’s a charming and romantic novel with style and substance. 

4  Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

A body is found in a cemetery. That might not sound unusual, but this body is alive. Bertha Truitt is found with a bag containing “one abandoned corset,” one bowling ball, one candlepin, and, “under a false bottom, 15 pounds of gold.” So begins National Book Award nominee Elizabeth McCracken’s first novel in 17 years, “Bowlaway,” which combines a love of New England history with an eye for the eccentric to create a tragicomic tale that spans 100 years of a family and its bowling alley. At times the quirkiness threatens to overwhelm the story, but its generous heart keeps “Bowlaway” spinning safely out of the gutter.

5  On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Lights up on Garden Heights! We’re back in the neighborhood of Angie Thomas’s debut novel, “The Hate U Give,” exploring some similar themes through a very different heroine. Brianna “Bri” Jackson is a talented rapper looking to break out, dealing with a loving but complicated home life and the systemic problems of society. She’s an irrepressible, appealing – and believable – guide. (See full review)

6  The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942 by William K. Klingaman

The author uses contemporary sources to survey the nation’s psyche in the tense months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Describing widespread fears of another attack, shifts in roles as men enlisted and women took over their jobs, and shortages of everything from sugar to gasoline, the historian vividly captures the bleak and anxious mood at a time when the Allied victory was in no way assured.

7  Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe

Packed with true crime, terrorism, grinding poverty and rampant police and military corruption, Patrick Radden Keefe’s history of Troubles-era Ireland moves between questions about the abduction and murder of a mother of 10 in Belfast and the machinations of Irish Republican Army figures Gerry Adams, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price. Keefe’s account of sectarian strife and suffering reveals the costs of colonialism and a society stripped of trust and faith in government. It’s a harsh, and necessary, reminder of how prejudice hurts everyone.

8  Notes on a Shipwreck: A Story of Refugees, Borders, and Hope by Davide Enia 

Davide Enia, one of Italy’s most lauded playwrights, presents a haunting memoir about refugees and rescuers, survivors and strangers, fathers and sons. Especially rare – and searing – among the voices he captures are those of the rescuers, who face the terrible decision about whom to save and whom to abandon. Translator Antony Shugaar adroitly enables English-speakers access to this spectacular testimony.

9  I’m Not Here to Give a Speech 
by Gabriel García Márquez

From boyhood speeches to addresses given in the presence of presidents and kings, the words of the Nobel Prize-winning author are captured and translated in this brief read. Through meandering narratives and poignant conclusions, readers are invited to glimpse his passion and intellect as he ruminates on creativity, the power of poetry, and Latin America – one speech at a time. “I’m Not Here to Give a Speech” is a welcome reminder of his immense contributions to literature, as well as his skill in using literary fame to highlight the distinct culture and creative strength of Latin America.

10  Midnight at Chernobyl 
by Adam Higginbotham

Journalist Adam Higginbotham sifts through archives and dozens of firsthand accounts to produce the most complete and compelling history yet written in English of the worst nuclear power plant meltdown in history. (See full review

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The Monitor's View

A surprise lesson after the Parkland shootings

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The school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a year ago Feb. 14 helped change the national conversation about guns. Why? It was largely the activism of student survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their mass rally in Washington and their March for Our Lives tour put politicians on the spot to address gun violence.

But the teen activists also flipped the narrative on victimhood by standing for something bigger. And in meetings with ardent advocates for gun ownership, they realized they could no longer vilify their opponents because of their views. They had to listen for shared experiences and shared goals. To achieve a civic goal, civility had to replace vitriol; humility had to replace the temptation to belittle. The students had to be open to the well-meaning intentions and the full context of their policy opponents, to try to learn what was behind their views.

The most valuable contribution of the Parkland students may be in changing the nature of the debate. By doing so they have smoothed a path toward joint solutions.

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A surprise lesson after the Parkland shootings

Of all the school shootings in the United States, the one in Parkland, Fla., a year ago Feb. 14 helped change the national conversation about guns. Why was that? It was largely the activism of student survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their mass rally in Washington and their March for Our Lives tour put politicians on the spot to pass some measures – not many – aimed at curbing gun violence. The teen activists flipped the narrative on victimhood by standing for something bigger.

Yet many also had to learn a lesson from their confrontational approach. In meetings with ardent advocates for gun ownership, they realized they could no longer vilify their opponents because of their views. They had to listen for shared experiences and shared goals.

“We’ve already met NRA members. They’re not bad people,” Parkland student Sarah Chadwick told The Washington Post. “We can agree, we can disagree, but we can talk.”

One co-founder of March for Our Lives, Cameron Kasky, told the BBC that he let his feelings get in the way of objective thinking. He regrets a part of his famous confrontation with Sen. Marco Rubio in which he said he could not look at the senator without seeing the shooter.

To achieve a civic goal, civility had to replace vitriol; humility had to replace the temptation to belittle.

“If I vilify half the people in this country, where is that going to bring me?” Mr. Kasky said. “I think there is so much that we can do if we all look at each other and say, ‘Where can we agree?’ Because that’s normally where the most progress is made.”

“I think the more you think about how right you are and how wrong everybody else is, the less you’ll learn. A lot of people in this country get stuck in bubbles – especially because of social media,” he adds.

The lesson learned was not only avoiding personal attacks. The students had to be open to the well-meaning intentions and the full context of their policy opponents. What fears lie behind their views? What past sadness drives their advocacy? Out of their own fears and sadness after the Parkland shooting, the students could understand similar feelings in others with different views on guns.

This shedding of stereotypes and the de-demonizing of opponents is a valuable spinoff from the Parkland shooting. The students have achieved some success in new gun legislation. Yet their more valuable contribution may be in changing the nature of the debate itself. By recognizing that “bad people” may really be good at heart, they have smoothed a path toward joint solutions.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

A healing Science all can practice

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As much as today’s contributor enjoyed her involvement with the Apollo space program, there’s a science she’s found even more valuable to study and put into practice: the Science behind Jesus’ healing ministry, which has led to healing experiences of her own.

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A healing Science all can practice

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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A recent comment questioning whether the United States had ever successfully put a man on the moon reminded me of when I worked at Kennedy Space Center as a marketing communications writer on the Apollo program. While I didn’t doubt the moon program was 100% authentic, I did wonder exactly how all the pieces of the massive Saturn V vehicle would come together. Like many people around the world, I had little science in my background to refer to for answers.

But I began to grasp it. Little by little, as I interviewed some of the brilliant minds who made up the team – including the “engi-grammers,” engineers who wrote the code for programming the guidance and trajectory for the Instrument Unit – I could conceive of the end result.

As much as I enjoyed learning more about the science behind the Apollo program, there’s another science I’ve also found interesting, and it’s of even more value to me: the divine Science that lies behind Jesus’ healings. According to biblical records, Christ Jesus consistently healed, and he helped his followers to understand the power of God, divine Spirit, as the restorer of health, strength, and life. He said, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10).

After years of prayerful search and study that rested on Bible-based spiritual reasoning, Mary Baker Eddy discovered a divine law underlying Jesus’ healings and teachings, and she proved what had been revealed to her by following Jesus’ example and healing others. She kept detailed notes and wrote a book on the subject titled “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” Later she named her discovery Christian Science and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist.

A key point in this divine Science is the understanding of God – that God is solely good. If world problems and personal issues like illness seem inevitable to us, it can be hard to believe in a benevolent creator, let alone an all-good God. But through my study and practice of Christian Science, I’ve come to understand that we are God’s spiritual creations and that our divine creator doesn’t send sickness or conflict. I’ve also seen how this understanding of God’s goodness and our expression of God’s qualities is a powerful means for bringing healing to inharmony of all kinds.

What about limiting beliefs such as discouragement and doubt that contradict this sense of goodness and seem to keep us from experiencing healing? We can ask questions, as I did when I wanted to learn how all the pieces of Apollo would work together – ­in this case to find the answers that shed light on spiritual reality. Just as the early astronauts began by learning the laws of aerodynamics, then making actual flights, so every receptive heart can learn more of the Science behind Jesus’ ministry and then employ it in daily life.

Through asking her own questions, Mrs. Eddy came to the conclusion that Jesus’ healing works were rooted in his knowledge and utter acceptance of God’s allness and goodness. Because he saw everyone as the spiritual sons and daughters of God, Jesus knew their completeness or wholeness was God-given, therefore unbreakable. This spiritual understanding resulted in healing.

One instance when I had the opportunity to put this Science into practice was when I awakened one day to extreme pain in my legs and back. I was only able to walk a few steps. A rash also covered the upper part of my body and an eye appeared to be infected.

My approach to this situation included studying passages from the Bible and Science and Health found in the weekly Bible Lesson from the “Christian Science Quarterly.” As I read, I noticed that the word “authority” appeared in the Lesson quite often. For instance, Science and Health states, “You have no law of His to support the necessity either of sin or sickness, but you have divine authority for denying that necessity and healing the sick” (p. 390).

I remembered a time when an opponent in a tennis match commented to me, “You hit the ball with such authority!” I immediately looked up the word in a dictionary. Definitions included the power to determine or adjudicate, the right to control or command, and the idea of having “what it takes,” and I considered several synonyms of the word.

Through my own study and prayer – and with the support of a Christian Science practitioner, whose ministry is to heal through prayer – I felt a renewed understanding of my right to annul an unjust sentence. I recognized it hadn’t come from God, good. With this new revelation I rose and walked across the room completely free of any pain. That evening I noticed the rash was gone and my eye had also cleared up. None of the issues have returned.

Each of us, through prayer, can come to understand the spiritual facts that correct negative, materially based thinking and lift our consciousness to new views and possibilities that bring healing.

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Viewfinder

Pence lands in Poland

Kacper Pempel/Reuters
A US Army soldier records the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence at the airport in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 13. The vice president was beginning a four-day visit to Europe in which he will take part in international conferences – including one on the Mideast – and visit World War II sites.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Karen Norris and Jacob Turcotte. )
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In Our Next Issue

( February 14th, 2019 )

Thank you for joining us today. Please come back tomorrow when staff writer Patrik Jonsson looks at how the landscape of gun laws in the United States has – and hasn’t – changed since the Parkland shootings a year ago.

Monitor Daily Podcast

February 13, 2019
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