Healing the nations: work for each of us
There was a period in my life when I daily crossed a bridge between Boston and Cambridge. I would be on foot and almost always look up and notice the words from Revelation inscribed on one of the approaches to the bridge: "On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Rev. 22:2; While the inscription may have been chosen simply for its symbolism (this bridge links two parts of a great university), it may also have served over the years to evoke in many a student the thought that not only one's formal learning and subsequent vocation but the entire thrust of his life can reach its highest meaning only when its motivation is to bless others.
Today there is an immediate need for "the healing of the nations." Rivalries for political and economic power that have existed for centuries have been joined by new technologies having the capacity for mass destruction. Changing power structures among the major industrial nations, combined with instabilities among the scores of newly independent nations, add up to a situation difficult for the most intelligent layman to follow, let alone offer constructive comment on. Yet our common fate appears to hang on the decisions being reached by the leaders of nations or by economic units that are not even known to us individually. How, then, can we help in this selfless work of healing the nations?
First, we need to ask ourselves if we actually want to help heal the nations. In the back of most people's thought lies the idea that it is good to be unselfish. But in the midst of day-to-day concerns that concept too often remains right there—at the back of thought! However, the nature of the good we would like for ourselves is no different from what we would like to see demonstrated for all mankind. What we claim for ourselves—health, satisfying activity, good companionship—we need to claim for all. What we can rightfully claim for our nation we must likewise want to see manifest for all nations.
Christian Science shows us that the reason God's goodness and absolute power seem obscured is that the limited material senses present a view of creation as including both good and evil. Mankind mistakenly accepts this false view as reality. To the extent that the falsity is uncovered and the reality of God's spiritual, wholly good creation is perceived and accepted, we experience harmony. It seems easiest to start unraveling the false sense of creation in one's own life, and daily challenges would argue that for most of us it is enough if we can only work out our own life more harmoniously. However, to say, "Me first, then you or the world if I have time" is to limit good even for oneself. We're falsely assuming we're victims of time, or that we're limited by a small knowledge of the truth and must garner what we have learned first for ourselves. Yet we help ourselves by helping others.
Goodness is universal. God's laws are universal in their application. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: "Each day I pray for the pacification of all national difficulties, for the brotherhood of man, for the end of idolatry and infidelity, and for the growth and establishment of Christian religion—Christ's Christianity. I also have faith that my prayer availeth, and that He who is overturning will overturn until He whose right it is shall reign." The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 220;
The identification of oneself as divine Love's reflection inevitably leads to higher challenges and should lead to higher evidences of one's understanding of Love's control over the universe. It is interesting that in the Beatitudes meekness, mercy, and purity precede "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Matt. 5:9; Our increasing identification with divine Love should turn us somewhat away from personal concerns to an awareness of mankind's needs and challenge us to use what we know of God's law to bless others.
One who wants to pray for the world, whose motivation is selfless, sometimes feels an honest modesty about his ability to do such work. He may feel that he simply knows too little even about the specific ills of nations. He wants to avoid appearing naive or foolish in setting out to correct ills for which he knows of no readily available human solution. The task appears too great. While this thought assails many, it is only another false argument that can be turned aside. Why? In the healing of disease one's need is not to have a description of every minute symptom but to see man in his spiritual wholeness and purity, untouched by the belief of disease. So in healing the ills of nations it is not necessary to know every last detail of the trouble or all the prescriptions for its cure.
Daily reading of The Christian Science Monitor does help immeasurably to keep one abreast of the most important global concerns, and it enlarges one's sense of community. The Monitor's healing tone and purpose point to the fact the world's primary need is not for extensive examination of the problem but for the application of spiritual truth, as in the treatment of sickness. In international relations, the rivalries for political and economic control reflect on a larger scale the fear, envy, and greed found in individual thought.
The desire to control or dominate others stems from the belief that good is limited, that people need to compete for a limited amount of substance. In reality, all individuals reflect the divine beneficence. Certainly we need to take practical steps to assure that human beings have adequate food and shelter. But the main need of mankind is to replace limited human thinking, based on the information of the material senses, with the knowledge of God's ever-presence and activity as the one universal good. Such work will bless people living in nations that appear impoverished or imposed upon. In relatively well-off nations it will help eliminate attitudes that would blind people to injustices they may unthinkingly be contributing to.
In the kingdom of God—in reality—there are no intermediaries between God and His reflection, man. Because this is the spiritual fact, any human organizational unit is effective only to the extent that it helps us express more of divine law and order. Our prayer for the progressive development of any institution needs to go beyond petitions of desire and hope, and affirm the present operation of such eternal spiritual qualities as wisdom and justice.
Is such work effective? We know it is effective, because it is based on the same Principle and utilizes the same truths that Christian Scientists in great numbers have applied to heal disease. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Christian Science must be accepted at this period by induction. We admit the whole, because a part is proved and that part illustrates and proves the entire Principle." Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 461. The world has need of the prayers of Christian Scientists to heal international wounds—wounds as spiritually healable as personal injury. The spiritually-minded practitioner of the Science of Christ has no doubt that the truth of being is equal to every need. Many Christian Scientists already pray regularly to see the kingdom of God more fully evidenced among the nations of the world.
The challenge to us is to more fully use the Science our Leader revealed to us in curing the ills of the world. Christ's Christianity is intended to meet all mankind's problems. The era of world harmony, which most hope for, will come about only as each individual who perceives the challenge from a metaphysical standpoint actively replaces arguments of global conflict with the mental model of the true universe—that universe in which the Prince of Peace, the Christ, Truth, reigns supreme.