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A spiritual model to guide government

From the November 14, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


With increasing concern around the globe about what the world’s future will look like, many are beginning to wonder what the government’s appropriate role is in solving the challenges that face us. Polling in the United States suggests that a large majority have lost confidence in the ability of government to come up with creative solutions to pressing economic and social issues. Riots and protests worldwide tend to confirm a universal concern.

What’s behind this lack of confidence? Some would suggest it’s an inability to get beyond partisan approaches. More and more, partisanship finds its roots in differing ideologies, and these deep convictions may be what are behind apparent political intransigence and reluctance to compromise or work together. They are certainly a big contributor to the rancor that is often part of today’s political discourse.

One approach to resolution might be appealing for more civil discourse—a worthy endeavor indeed. But there may be something deeper here that needs addressing. When we lose confidence in something, it’s often because we’ve lost our vision of where we’re going. Today we are in an era of changing political and economic models—our paradigms are shifting almost in every quarter. Not knowing what will work, yet realizing that what has been done before might not work now, puts us adrift. This unsettling situation is what social forecaster John Naisbitt describes as “a time of parenthesis, the time between eras” (Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives, p. 249).

It’s unsettling to be “between.” But there is another paradigm that has been around for centuries, one that can give assurance that no matter what changes are taking place there is still a principle governing—the divine Principle, God.

A REIGN OF HARMONY

Jesus spoke of this government as the “kingdom of God” or the “kingdom of heaven.” He pointed out that this kingdom wasn’t spatial. It was not found in another place or another time, nor was it going to be brought to us by political leaders. It was to be found within us. He assured his listeners that the time for its appearing was now—“The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:9).

Many have made an effort to project a political purpose into Jesus’ teaching regarding the kingdom, but this overlooks the crux of his mission: the transformation of thought from a material to a spiritual basis. This transformation continues today and can be seen as the spiritual catalyst that is impelling change in our world.

What is the “good news” of this kingdom, and how does it apply to the need for creative government today? A useful insight can be found in Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health. Referring to the spiritual essence of the kingdom, Eddy gave this definition: “Kingdom of Heaven. The reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme” (p. 590). Here are three useful dimensions in understanding government by divine Principle, God.

The “reign of harmony” comes neither from mere consensus, or agreement, nor through the process of compromise. A true reign of harmony comes from bringing thought and action into line with the laws of God, or divine Science. In suggesting that the laws of government—exemplified in the Ten Commandments—reside within us, Jesus was alluding to the fact that God’s law is inherent within our makeup. And, in fact, these commandments, representing God’s law, have formed the foundation for honesty, justice, and fairness in many forms of government.

GOVERNMENT BY DIVINE LAW

How simple a change for more creative government: humbly following in letter and spirit what has already proven effective over the centuries. There need be no feeling adrift when we recognize God’s law already within us. No matter how the political winds may blow, these divine principles still form the basis for harmony in our lives. When new forms or models forge to the surface, we have a basis for discriminating what’s right and truly progressive. True progress in life doesn’t throw aside what is fundamental, but rather builds upon it.

Government by unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind does not rely on opinion, conjecture, or mere experimentation. It is not a “realm” of warring ideologies. Divine intelligence is constantly revealing its own order of creation, an infinite plan forever developing new forms and ideas. While nothing is new to this divine Mind, development appears new to the human scene.

BUILDING ON BETTER MODELS

And how do we access this forever appearing? By developing a disposition that is willing to leave the old for the new. The divine Mind relishes its ever appearing of the infinite idea, unbounded by material theories, assumptions, and beliefs. By realizing that this appearing is going on within us, we too can be comfortable with infinite development. It leads to new horizons of thought, builds on the useful, outgrows the outworn, and seeks new dimensions of thought that show more of our divine nature.

Maybe it’s a good thing that people from time to time lose confidence in existing forms and political structures. That process often encourages us to seek better models. Political gridlock can be frustrating—but rarely are we willing to seek higher models of thought when the old ones appear to be working. I’ve enjoyed this observation by Eddy about willingness to progress: “Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear,—this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony” (Science and Health, p. 324). To me, this suggests that a disposition of joy and gladness to move on will bring not only new methods of doing things, but the ultimate harmony.

FINDING COMMON GROUND

If it seems that politics devolves into squabbling over irrelevant issues, we can be focused on the deeper meaning of life’s topics. The atmosphere of divine Spirit guides us to relevancy, highlighting the things that really matter, clarifying and defining what is truly at stake. By coming to this higher sense of relevancy, we find common ground. Dissension abides in the atmosphere of materially based assumptions—the personality of others, political passions that mistake form for substance, the tendency to marginalize whatever is not in agreement with one’s own opinions. The kingdom of heaven reveals a pervading influence within us that seeks a higher perspective.

The kingdom of heaven reveals a pervading influence within us that seeks a higher perspective.

Faced with disagreement or contention, we can allow God, divine Soul, to impel our appreciation of what is valuable in another’s outlook. This outlook finds utility and insightfulness, rather than threat, in diversity of expression. It finds ways to build up, rather than tear down. This atmosphere of thought promotes a healing consciousness, rather than being satisfied with mere analysis. And ultimately, that is what the kingdom of heaven is about—a healing state of thought that promotes recognition of our wholeness, value, and worth.

Good government doesn’t allow for divisions; it finds the approach that is a blessing for all. And an atmosphere where Soul is supreme lifts us to perceive that common blessing.

We might indeed be living in an era of parenthesis, a time between, but this does not have to imply simply waiting around for new human governance. Each individual can influence the political paradigm by living the spiritual demands of the kingdom of heaven—cherishing the realm of unerring Mind, which promotes spiritual development, and upholding the atmosphere of Spirit. Truly, the kingdom of God has come unto us, and it can be a time and experience of deep unity.

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