There are those who have to cut down on red-carpet items like the corporate jet and that $3,000 weekend at the spa. Far more prevalent are those who are crossing red meat off the home supper menu and sticking with spaghetti. But however the cuts come, there's no argument: Just about everyone is adjusting to a revised standard of living in some way.
Not all of this is bad news as individuals rethink their lifestyles and how they spend their money. Shoe repair shops are posting huge spikes in business, since people aren't so quick to rush out and buy that new shiny pair. The odometer on the car that reads 100,000 is replacing its "Trade me in" message with a much louder one: "You and I, kiddo, have only just begun."
But what actually is this standard of living we hear so much about in the news? This thing we have to adjust to, agonize over, and be defined by? One thing that's safe to say is that it can be defined as changeable, unpredictable â€“ and up for grabs. Another thing that's safe to say: Nothing changeable, unpredictable, or up for grabs is "safe."
Of course we all desire that economies â€“ not just our own but those around the globe â€“ thrive. But there might be a better way to help that along, for everyone concerned, if we begin to understand the concept of standard of living in a different way. A way that frees, instead of restricts.
I've found that Mary Baker Eddy's explanation of a "standard of liberty" sheds considerable light on the concept of standard of living. She wrote in the textbook of Christian Science, "Christian Science raises the standard of liberty and cries: 'Follow me! ... ' Jesus marked out the way. Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 227). It's a simple message, and when examined closely, it's a remarkable one. Because it gently leads us to the idea that when we get out of our own way, there are universal laws of God, of good, that we can "follow" â€“ that sustain us. And they not only sustain us, but allow for expanded prospects on the horizon.
Freedom from worry. This might sound a little naive in these times, but in fact it's a present and dynamic possibility. To begin to know God as not only a Comforter, but as a Caretaker. To begin to see that this divine Mind guides us â€“ not in some Pollyannaish, "la-de-da" way of thinking but step by step â€“ by removing personal responsibility and the sense that we are at the mercy of events. It brings harmony into our lives. This doesn't imply for one minute being passive in doing what's necessary in regard to employment, bringing down debt, or finding new ways to meet living expenses. But it does mean that our starting point can be a humble acknowledgment that the divine Mind is already on the field. And guess what? It is meeting our needs by giving us good ideas, moment to moment.
Freedom to be receptive to new ideas. When worry lifts, we have clarity, pure and simple. Creative ideas suddenly fill the space where stress seemed to be. These ideas come from this same Mind that fills all space and does not leave room for doubt and concern. When we have the expectation that good is our divine right, bestowed by a capable, divine, intelligent Mind, we allow thought to travel in new directions, previously closed off by insecurity and indecision, doubt and inaction. New possibilities â€“ perhaps for employment we may never have considered before â€“ become opportunities for investigation.
Freedom to experience life in a wider context. What the understanding of one divine Mind provides is a vision that opens out â€“ beyond a "standard of living" to a "standard of liberty" â€“ a life not defined by a paycheck, or by the lack of a paycheck. Neither looming percentages of unemployment or ageism in the workplace, operating at either end of the spectrum, defines it. This vision liberates us from a future we've pinned down with "what ifs" and sets us free to consider entirely fresh options. Right now.
With this liberating standard of spiritual understanding and wealth, a line from Science and Health offers assurance: "Both Science and consciousness are now at work in the economy of being according to the law of Mind, which ultimately asserts its absolute supremacy" (p. 423). This is the "economy" we can start with and stay with, and are daily blessed by â€“ safe, in the supremacy of Spirit.