Imagine a car tire leaving behind an endless ribbon of tread on the highway. That might serve as a metaphor for the news stories that keep unspooling on this defective tires tragedy. And there's no sign the reports are coming to a stop any time soon. That's understandable, given the magnitude of the tragedy - more than a hundred lives lost in accidents - and the apparent fact that the defects were uncovered years ago, in plenty of time to correct the problem and save many lives.
But this column isn't about finger-pointing or blaming. It's about solution-finding and healing. It's about the place prayer can have in enhancing the safety of communities and the world - whether the dangers are known or unknown.
An unlikely but valuable resource is in one of the earliest recorded accounts of divine power providing for human safety. In this Bible story, the only tread was that of countless feet up and onto the deck of an ark. Noah's ark, which safely carried his family and two of every animal through an unprecedented 40-day storm and the flooding that followed. While there was destruction all around, everyone and everything on the ark came through okay. But what does an ancient boat journey have to tell us about safer road travel in the 21st century? Maybe a good deal.
If this story is relevant now, it's not because it gives us a better design for boats that don't come apart under pressure. It's because it points to an awareness, a spiritual intuitiveness that was at work in so many Bible characters. It was this intuitiveness that caused Noah to build the ark when no outward sign hinted he should. Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Jesus, Paul, possessed this spiritual intuition to varying degrees. So did many others. They benefited in terms of the greater safety it brought to them and to those within the vicinity of their prayers. Regardless of how well or poorly made were the boats, carts, or other equipment then in use.
The spiritual awareness which was so effective then is undiminished today. God, who is the one immortal Spirit, is the source of this spiritual awareness and intuitiveness. And more, Spirit is the source of safety itself. As we are conscious of the fact that we live in the realm of God, we naturally make wiser decisions. Even decisions about things that seem as ordinary as what to do and how to get there. God's thoughts - what some people call angels - steer us out of danger to where safety is more certain.
For a right intuition to be effective though, we need to make room for it in consciousness. We need to quiet fears and anxieties, as well as any tendencies to become consumed in blaming and condemning people. Those mental traits tend to overheat consciousness and send it spinning out of control. How much better to be receptive to what Spirit has to say. Then better decisions on our part follow.
One message Spirit has for us is that we are its own creation in its own likeness - that is, purely spiritual. Since a spiritual idea dwelling in a universe of pure Spirit is invulnerable, we can know that everyone's identity is truly indestructible. And one of the ways this spiritual reality is expressed in our lives is in right intuitions that protect us from risks we can see, and - like Noah - even from those we can't.
Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, once wrote, "Into His haven of Soul there enters no element of earth to cast out angels, to silence the right intuition which guides you safely home ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 152).
God makes this "right intuition which guides you safely" available to everyone. That's not an excuse for corporate executives to act irresponsibly. Nor is it a substitute for the development of things like safer tires - or safer boats. But knowing that we have God-bestowed intuitiveness will help us make safer decisions. And, because God's love and inspiration is as much for corporate executives as it is for the rest of us, His right intuition will also help manufacturers foresee potential problems and develop the safe products the public deserves.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society