Democratic societies are established on the fundamental concept of representative government deriving its power from the consent of the governed. The primary relationship between the governed and their representatives is symbolized by the ballot box. Here the individual fulfills a vital role in participatory government.
But what if confusion and manipulation threaten to undermine the election process? What if political campaigns appear to promote unsavory tactics and slick imagery rather than solid platforms? Just as every member of a democratic society has the right and responsibility to cast a vote, each one has an equal opportunity to pray for the electorate to be guided by divine wisdom, to pray for good government and for leaders with integrity. In fact, such prayer can be viewed as an essential duty.
To elect good leaders requires an appreciation of the qualities of good government and effective leadership on the part of the community. This places an important responsibility on us. Reaching a deeper understanding of the qualities needed in our leaders—qualities like integrity, honesty, perception, forthrightness, moral courage, and so on—comes through spiritual discernment and prayer. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, "The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking." We can earnestly pray, then, that infinite wisdom will lead to a recognition and collective support of the highest qualities of leadership.
Our prayer for righteous government today could focus on many issues, but some specific ones requiring our attention are the healing of apathy, upholding a spiritual concept of government, dealing with false influences, and replacing confusion with decisiveness.
1. Healing apathy. Apathy is a mesmeric tool of the carnal mind. It claims, in a very personal way, that our individual thought and action have no value and won't make a difference anyway. Apathy would have us think: "Why vote? My ballot doesn't really matter." Whether generated by confusion, discouragement, or some other negative influence, apathy is not a Godlike quality, and it needs to be wiped out of our thinking and living.
The need is to awaken from the dream that life is an endless round of futility. Genuine Life is God, and God is good alone, a fact that each one of us has a role in proving. Each of us, in truth, is an individual spiritual expression of God, indispensable in His universe. Each individual expression is important, requisite. Mrs. Eddy writes in Pulpit and Press: "You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right. and thus demonstrating deific Principle."
God creates man and gives him life and individuality. The infinite individuality of God ensures our distinct individuality. No one can take our place, nor can we assume another's. Being awake to our relationship to God keeps us inspired.
It is divinely inspired thought and action that governments need. To realize that the one divine Mind is the genuine governor of man can be a vital part of our prayer for ourselves, our national leaders, and our elected officials. In Job we read, "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."
2. Upholding a spiritual concept of government. To be constructive citizens, we need to understand what constitutes good government. To pray effectively, we need to discern the actual, spiritual nature of government and apply this understanding in our efforts to benefit society. Human governments may be a mixture of good and bad laws, effective and ineffective leaders. But God's government is not subject to abuse. What we want is to bring a greater recognition of this incorruptible, divine government into the forefront of our own thinking. In this regard, Mrs. Eddy offered a prayer, found in the Manual of The Mother Church, that she asked Christian Scientists to pray every day: "'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!"
We may need to thrust aside a raging debate going on within us about one issue or another and ask divine Mind for guidance, seeking in prayer a spiritual altitude of thought in order to see the right way to think.
If, in applying our understanding of the divine government, we are concerned about a particularly controversial political stance, our prayerful contribution to the issue could be to consider a relevant spiritual law. We can turn our thought, in prayer, to the authority of spiritual law as it specifically relates to the situation, recognizing that God's law is always operating and all-powerful, and knowing that there is, in truth, no other power to oppose God, divine Principle.
3. Dealing with false influences. How do we sort out the aggressive, conflicting, and sometimes manipulative positions, slogans, and campaign promises of political parties? We can pray to defend ourselves from being apparently or unconsciously manipulated. We may need to thrust aside a raging debate going on within us about one issue or another and ask divine Mind for guidance, seeking in prayer a spiritual altitude of thought in order to see the right way to think.
Mrs. Eddy has given Christian Scientists instruction in the Church Manual about protecting themselves. She writes, "The members of this Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing or being influenced erroneously." Clearly, each person has his or her own thoughts to establish and protect. Understanding our relationship to God—our divine source of intelligence—and defending that understanding eliminate fear, confusion, or mental interference and confirm our confidence in government under the control of divine Mind.
4. Replacing confusion with decisiveness. The Bible is full of examples of individuals who made decisions in obedience to God. Some of these were Noah, Moses, Solomon, Elijah, the disciples, Paul, and of course, Christ Jesus, whose life exemplified his teaching "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." Here, then, is an example to follow when we have decisions to make, a vote to cast, an issue to support, a stand to take. We need to seek "the will of the Father" and set aside our own predetermined assumptions regarding the pluses and minuses of a specific action. Then we can follow with confidence the direction that flows from yielding to divine guidance, and trust that the outcome will be just.
We make decisions almost every moment of every day. Some are small, some momentous. Some decisions affect only ourselves or our family, and others may affect our whole community. Our ability to make good decisions as citizens has a great deal to do with keeping ourselves active and inspired, understanding God's law, and protecting our thought from any influence but the divine. These are essential aspects of being a citizen who contributes to healing through prayer any problem associated with today's political scene. This spiritual approach is what the world needs so very much.
The November 2 issue of the Sentinel will focus on Prayer and elections.