This is a time when the edges of political, social, and economic issues become hard and uncomfortable for many. Strong feelings are stirred, and often words are launched into the national atmosphere that aren't worthy of our highest sense of brotherly love.
It is hardly likely that Americans will ever fight a civil war a second time, but the seeds of the one that we did fight must have been sown in the kind of thinking I found myself engaged in this summer during the weeks of the political conventions.
I have never considered myself political, though I am registered with a party and vote in primaries as well as elections. This year, I discovered myself caring very deeply about a particular issue. I read carefully whatever came to my home, and began to think unkind thoughts about those who didn't agree with what I believed to be in the best interest of our country. I also began to fear for our democracy, if those individuals were elected who didn't see things as I saw them.
So far, I hadn't prayed about any of this, which was probably why I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable. As a Christian, I turn to the Bible to guide me. As a Christian Scientist, I also study the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, who established a Church that evidences God's love for man as recorded throughout the Bible.
I found that Mrs. Eddy made this statement in the Boston Post in November 1908: ''I am asked, 'What are your politics?' I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself.'' n1 Supporting righteous government didn't strike me as such an unusual political position. But Mrs. Eddy's statement that loving God and her neighbor was also her ''politics'' really gave me a pause.
n1 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany p. 276.
I saw immediately that I hadn't included those primary guidelines of Christ Jesus' referred to by Mrs. Eddy, (see Matthew 22:36-39) in my campaign-of-1984 thinking. I began to do so.
I found that much of the heat in my thinking about the issue in question began to dissipate. I can't really love God supremely and believe there is another power, a power that is going to bring disaster upon me and my society. Nor can I love my neighbor in the Godlike way Jesus taught and entertain thoughts of someone's incompetence. I was now willing to pray to see that God's government of man supersedes the governments of men, and that God's government will embrace the activities of mankind as it is more widely welcomed into human thought.
I thought of our government as an airplane. (That's because I'm a bit tired of the metaphor of ''the ship of state.'') Suppose that one is flying on a plane and trouble develops with the engine. As the pilot begins his anxious announcement, not one of us is counting the Republicans or Democrats aboard; nor are any of us looking around to see how many believe in God's saving power, the Christ. Wouldn't many of us begin to pray - to make some form of petition for divine action, or to affirm God's present and perfect control of all things? I certainly would!
I could see that what one would do in an emergency is exactly what one should do during the normal course of affairs. My highest sense of government should always be a realization of God's perfect control of man and the universe.
Feelings of agitation and concern over which party would be the titular head of government completely subsided in an acceptance of the need to help support a righteous government.
Some verses from Psalms tell what I am electing this year, in the deepest sense. I am electing to praise God. ''God be merciful unto us, and bless us.... O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.... Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.'' n2
n2 Psalms 67:1, 4, 5.
I haven't resigned my responsibilities as a citizen of my country. I intend to vote, guided in my decision by prayer. Now, however, I feel I am claiming my divine rights - the right to praise, not condemn; the right to seek blessing, not cursing.
As I have elected to praise God, I have found that the hostility in my thought has left. Peace on earth has begun in my own houshold - which is the best place for it to begin. DAILY BIBLE VERSE I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. Psalms 119:113