Editors' Note: The differences between developed and developing nations can be described in many ways. In economic terms, gross national product is often cited. Patterns of employment and the need for education, industries, and food stand in stark contrast from one nation to another. Observers have taken note of the disparities between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the globe. Yet there is a common ground, a metaphysical ground, that thoughtful people are coming to see is shared by every citizen in every nation. This month's guest editorial takes a look at this global issue from the perspective of one who has found a spiritual standpoint from which to view the fundamental challenges of development.
Anyone who has come to see something of the tremendous demands for development that face so many countries will probably have come also to appreciate the need for a shared vision among humanity.
While development requires specific economic, educational, and social goals, to speak of development is to speak fundamentally of a mental and spiritual revolution. Ideas that uplift humanity are those that have the power to transform human thought, displacing myths and obsolete customs. This transformation must elevate the human condition to higher levels of justice and freedom.
We're beginning to see more clearly that growth does come through change. But much change comes quickly, almost too quickly, as some societies are required to change almost overnight in the most profound ways. And while we all might wish for more time to adjust to changes, the very idea of progress is causing people everywhere to want better standards of living.
In order to work together more effectively, don't we need to find some underlying common ground that makes our interest in improving life a shared one? Beginning steps may include exploring the art and literature of cultures other than our own. Such expressions of thought and life tell what is valued and valuable to people. They can help us to understand that we all form part of a great mosaic of values that constitute the human race. Cultural misunderstandings that build up hurtful barriers between nations can begin to fall and our native sense of brotherhood will be wakened.
This kind of mental liberation expands our horizons and benefits everyone that it touches. Mutual understanding does comfort during trying times and can open treasures of humanitarian concern for our fellowman during natural disasters and civil conflict. Even more, such mental liberation begins to open our thought more fully to Christ Jesus' teachings, particularly to how he taught us to respond to each other: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matt. 7:12.
Isn't this the fundamental idea that lies at the core of our relationship to one another in this world? The more we can understand each other's common interests and common desire to have a better life, the more closely we get to the spirit of the Master's teachings. Going beyond mere self-interest, we progressively lay hold on home, community, and a Christly understanding of the world.
We turn to God for our model of love. When we understand that the God presented in the Bible is actually divine Love itself, this idea begins to shine through our entire life and dealings with others. And it is the nature of divine Love to give us the capacity to love and to care for others.
Understanding this metaphysical foundation for thought and decisionmaking gives us reason for hope in the world. The great transformations that are now at work in developing countries can't simply be the result of time or culture; they must ultimately be the work of Love.
Although invisible to the material senses, the idea of divine Love operates actively in human consciousness. It reaches to the foundation of human motivation and progressively frees from fear, selfishness, and tyranny. Generosity, goodness, and a thrust for justice develop in people through the power of divine Love.
This spiritual process is described in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. In The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, she writes, "Love unfolds marvellous good and uncovers hidden evil." Miscellany, p. 288.
This double effect is critical in human development. In bringing evil to light, the action of divine Love works to take away the seeming power and authority of evil. It does this through the spiritual understanding that God does not cause evil—it isn't His work. The limitation and hurt that we see on the human scene are not from God, and this very fact emboldens human effort to overcome evil. Belief in evil and the harmful effects of such beliefs must be exposed to the extent that men and women no longer fear or respect evil and thus can come to see that evil hasn't the power or reality it claims to have.
The goodness that divine Love develops in us comes from God's own good nature. Viewed from the Biblical standpoint that man is created in God's likeness, goodness forms man's true nature, and we can prove this step by step in our own lives. Because God is infinite, His capacity to express good has no end and continues developing in us without limit. This should occur in each person and is the true work of development that individually and collectively must be manifested in every nation—north or south.
Truly developing thought, enlightened thought, expects good to develop in others. This is a spiritual capacity and can't be withheld from any person regardless of the human circumstances in which he finds himself. Such thinking comes to recognize the universal fatherhood of God, which provides for man out of His spiritual abundance. This idea of spiritual abundance, expressed in man, acts in human consciousness as a law, working to overcome human lack.
The idea of God as universal Father also reveals man as His son. Coming to view man—ourselves and all others— as God's child develops true worth and impels cooperation among nations. Then we begin to see the true mutual interest of humanity, the family of man united through the fatherhood of God. The unity that mankind seeks is spiritual, not material. As we understand more of this spiritual unity, we will see more of this unity bringing peace to earth.
Each one of us can contribute to development in the world. Knowing that God governs the life of all that He creates, we can trust the ultimate triumph of divine Love over selfishness, poverty, and oppression. We can open our own thought and lives with greater generosity, realizing without limit the abundance of good that every individual can express. The expectation of the development of good brought about through divine Love will actively maintain our common interests, strong in hope, ready in good works here and now.
Juan Carlos Lavigne is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, whose home is in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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