ANYONE WHO HAS EVER WATCHED a TV sitcom might conclude that civility in modern life has ebbed to the point of seeming almost quaint. In TV-world, teenagers hurl insults at one another and at their hapless parents, wives and husbands bicker about each other's faults, and workers scheme to undermine their bosses and peers.
OUR JOB IS TO BE VIGILANT ABOUT ALIGNING OURSELVES WITH THE OMNIPOTENCE OF DIVINE INTELLIGENCE.
Do these fictional characters reflect real life? In some ways, yes. Because even though these shows rely on exaggeration for laughs, the modern world does race along at breakneck speed, often allowing little time for courtesy and thoughtfulness in day-to-day interactions with the countless strangers we encounter on the telephone, on the Internet, and in commerce.
You might say, Who cares if we drop the niceties of yesteryear's more leisurely consideration of others? After all, everyone has to strive to keep up with the pressure to understand technology and maneuver through high-stress environments and expanding realms of thought. And, of course, most people don't disrespect others outwardly by throwing around insults, or plotting to sabotage other people's success.
Still, it's worth taking time to ask ourselves, What's really going on inside, in people's hearts? Just what is the atmosphere beneath the surface, in consciousness? Cynicism, the reigning attitude of jaded comedians and radio talk show hosts, seems to seep into daily life like white noise. And how frequently do we register how the levels of negativity that often infect public discourse affect our own attitudes?
Mary Baker Eddy recognized the power of negative thought-suggestions not only to disturb one's peace of mind, but actually to cause harm to the body. But she also found how to combat the undermining influences that vie for our attention. She wrote: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. ... The issues of pain or pleasure must come through mind, and like a watchman forsaking his post, we admit the intruding belief, forgetting that through divine help we can forbid this entrance" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 392—393).
Christian Science teaches, "God is intelligence" (ibid., p. 2). And from the Bible's teachings it's clear that, as the image of God (see Gen. 1:27), each one of us reflects divine intelligence. It is our only real source. Consequently, all of our thinking, every motive and thought, actually derives from divine intelligence. No evil influence has power or presence. So thought that doesn't come from God, from good, has no substance, no reality. Our job is to be vigilant to align ourselves with the omnipotence of divine intelligence. And divine Love undergirds and informs that intelligence.
Although there are countless ways to describe the infinite nature of God, Mrs. Eddy drew upon her study of the Bible to identify God with seven prominent synonyms: Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love (see Science and Health, p. 587). Because each of these names describes God, each one provides an insight into the magnitude and power of the intelligence God imparts to every one of us. Which means, we don't actually have to fall prey to the downward tendency of negativity and cynicism. We are all endowed with the infinite Life, Principle, Soul, Love, and Mind of our Creator. And there is nothing that can diminish or distort the omniscience and power of good that is inherently ours by divine right.
This is not some simplistic, naive Pollyanna view of life. It's actually trusting the power of all-intelligence, all-Principle, all-Love, all-wisdom, to permeate our thinking and our daily lives. God's power and love can transform each of us—and, ultimately, the world.
Relying on divine intelligence to direct our speech and actions means that courtesy, thoughtfulness, and consideration never have to be an all-out effort. The power of real, spiritual, profound Love to heal and harmonize can—and eventually will—become our prevailing natural attitude. And in the process, cynicism and negativity will recede until they no longer are able to find a home in consciousness.