One earth, one environment

The environment we share is subject to the spiritual law of God. Understanding this purifies our lives and our world.

In the last few years major environmental problems on several continents have emphasized our dependence on each other. The radioactivity released at Chernobyl and other incidents of this nature have dramatized the fact that all of us share one planet and are touched by a global, not just a local, environment.

This fact of our sharing one earth can have good results if it leads us to work together to solve problems. Yet there also seems to be a negative side, one that says we are helpless if someone somewhere makes a major mistake. What then?

There is a saying that "the best defense is a good offense," and in this case, our best defense is to think deeply about our environment before we face such threats. We do this by striving to purify our sense of ourselves and our environment. Prayer is vital to this work because it spiritualizes thought, lifts it above the material, carnal tendencies of greed, carelessness, ignorance, that are at the heart of so much environmental damage.

Prayer based on the teachings of Christian Science shows us also that we are not mortals living in the midst of contamination. The Bible tells us that man is spiritual, the child of God, and that—as Paul put it—"in him we live, and move, and have our being." Acts 17:28. Describing man's relationship to his environment, the Scriptures represent God as saying to man, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Gen. 1:28.

Without spiritualization of thought we will more or less continue to accept as real a poisoned environment where fear and danger seem so evident.

This dominion rests on a spiritual foundation. It becomes evident in our lives as we reflect the qualities of our divine Father-Mother. Goodness, perfection, purity, wisdom, love, are just a few of the qualities that make up our true, spiritual identity and environment. Spiritualizing our thought by living these qualities daily opens our eyes to our totally pure identity as sons and daughters of God. Without this spiritualization of thought, we will more or less continue to accept as real a poisoned environment where fear and danger seem so evident. As Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health: "Human capacity is slow to discern and to grasp God's creation and the divine power and presence which go with it, demonstrating its spiritual origin. Mortals can never know the infinite, until they throw off the old man and reach the spiritual image and likeness." Science and Health, p. 519.

We begin to throw off this "old man"—the carnal or mortal way of thinking—by striving to live more in accord with the standards Christ Jesus set in his teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount. If our thoughts are polluted with greed, selfishness, dishonesty, fear, anger, we can clean up our own mental environment.

It's not difficult to see that such errors are the basis for actions that damage the world's environment. For example, greed may lead a manufacturer to bypass laws governing responsible storage or disposal of hazardous wastes. Selfishness may keep an organization from taking into account how careless actions will affect the surrounding community. Fear may prevent employees from speaking up when illegal methods are used.

In our prayers for ourselves, we can challenge and reject these and other mortal tendencies that claim to be a part of our identity—and our world. In truth man can only reflect and express Godlikeness. Recognizing this, we can extend the scope of our prayers to include any environmental issues that are in the news, whether we are directly affected or not. When we do this, we are obeying Christ Jesus' declaration that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

Obviously these environmental challenges are not minor issues. In some cases there may be steps we can take individually to help legislators and others find solutions. But diligently striving to understand the essential spiritual laws of God that will protect us and correct hazardous conditions is something we all can do.

A healing a Christian Scientist had a few years ago can hint at the great potential for good opened up by prayer. It shows in one woman's life that spiritual truth is relevant to the big picture as well as to our individual lives.

At that time this individual began to suffer from a skin infection so severe that she feared permanent scarring might result. As the condition increased in severity, she began to pray earnestly and to seek God's direction. The town where she lived was near a major hazardous-waste site; so as part of her prayer she endeavored to reject the belief that she was a mortal and possibly being victimized by dangerous chemicals. In addition to actively claiming her spiritual identity, which was invulnerable to evil, she endeavored to purify her thought, to give up feelings of impatience, fear, anger. As she made progress along these lines, the infection diminished.

One day the landlord told her that an underground tank buried in the yard had once stored gasoline. The gasoline had become contaminated, and he had been advised simply to release it a little at a time. Eventually, he was told, it would dissipate.

Whether or not the well water had actually been contaminated by the gasoline, the woman felt great concern over this possibility—given her physical condition—and was frightened at first. Yet as she prayed she saw the need to claim her—and everyone's—right to a pure environment. She recognized that this environment was spiritual, not material, and that if she could fully grasp this fact as a reality, healing would result.

Another thing she needed to address was the belief that the situation was irreversible and thus would have to be largely accepted and endured. She began to demand more vigorously her right as God's child to experience only good. She tried to give up thinking of herself as a vulnerable mortal. As she began to reject feelings of suffering and helplessness, the condition and its marks totally disappeared and did not return.

Not long after this, the woman heard news that suggested her prayers had had a broader significance. The town where she lived had begun to develop a law relating to underground storage tanks that would help to prevent such contamination in the future. This law eventually went into effect and led to many changes. Clearly, other people were concerned about the issue as well, but the woman's specific prayer, which reached beyond her personal trial, would certainly have supported the search for a sound solution to what, according to the news reports, was a very widespread problem.

One of the great benefits of prayer as practiced in Christian Science is that it is based on knowable, provable divine laws that are stated in the Bible and in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health. And because of this it is possible to "test" the effectiveness of prayer through the evidence of healing that results. The spiritual approach this woman used can help you, too.

When we pray in this way, we are embracing our one earthly environment with the spiritual facts that are ours to demonstrate both at home and for the world. And we can expect to see results.

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