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Stopping the bulldozer

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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The political season is warming up again in the United States. (Actually, people could be excused for wondering if it ever cools off!) Already, candidates are jockeying for position and preparing their runs for office in the year 2000.

There is no question that politics can arouse strong passions. And maybe, before the political machines start moving at full throttle, we should look at the word passion. It can mean a very strong, almost uncontrollable emotion.

Someone running for office needs a deep commitment and a strong desire to win. And his or her supporters have to be equally committed to the ideals and goals of their candidate. But passion can lead to moral blindness and ethical lapses that actually jeopardize entire campaigns. Passion often seems to override intelligence. It's a bulldozer mentality that practices, and is susceptible to, manipulation. In the past it has led to abuses, the consequences of which have on occasions assumed the proportions of Greek tragedy.

In thinking about the kinds of mental forces that drive people, the founder of the Monitor wrote, "In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one" (Mary Baker Eddy, in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pgs. 82-83).

People often place expediency over ethics. The philosophy is that "the end justifies the means" - however bad they are. But "the divine Mind" - which is God - provides the intelligence to express ideas winningly; to develop strategies effectively; to discern the needs of the people and see how to meet them. Following God's leadings is effective, and there is no penalty attached to it.

This kind of reason and drive brings a success that passion is incapable of delivering. An example from long ago illustrates this difference today. Absalom, the son of King David, lusted after his father's throne. He began a campaign to succeed his father. In the process, he deceived the people and manipulated their opinions until, in the words of the Bible, he "stole the hearts of the men of Israel" (II Sam. 15:6). Eventually, civil war broke out, and Absalom died in the conflict.

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