A Christian Science perspective: How we can support needed change in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia and also contribute to maintaining stability.
As a recent Monitor feature reports, the winds of change are blowing in the Middle East, and in fact throughout the world. Following the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, in which the presidents were ousted, autocratic regimes elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa are facing protests from citizens eager for democratic reforms.
Not only is political change in the air, there has also been a shift under way in the balance of economic power between Western and Eastern nations, and a change from a boom to a bust economy in many nations.
Revolutions always bring multiple changes that are clearly identifiable by historians with the benefit of hindsight – but that are not always so clear while they’re happening. In this global society the changes taking place will have some ripple effect for most of us. Change is challenging, and while some people welcome it, others are unsettled or even alarmed by it.
How can we support and contribute to desirable change while maintaining needed stability? I find help in the Bible. Christ Jesus advocated change. He began his ministry with a challenge to the status quo: ”Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). ”Repent” was understood by his audience to mean “think differently.”
Jesus was calling for a change of thinking; the parables he used in teaching and the way in which he healed point to this. His countrymen had long been waiting for a political savior and freedom from the oppression of living in occupied territory. But Jesus’ role was not political; it was spiritual. To him, the kingdom of heaven signified the rule of God. In part, Jesus was calling on his listeners to change their thought of government from one determined by people to one determined by God, the divine Principle of universal good, “at hand,” here, now. His followers are called upon to undergo the same thought-change today.
In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy described heaven as “Harmony ... government by divine Principle” (p. 587). Understanding ourselves to be children of God, divine Principle, it follows that we are all citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The harmony we long for is the natural outcome of “government by divine Principle,” which impels the expression of qualities needed for good citizenship, fair government, and economic and social stability. Among them are honesty, unselfishness, wisdom, patience, generosity, self-control, and humility.
These qualities, expressed individually, increasingly result in collective harmony and prosperity. They replace greed, corruption, and personal agendas, which are at the root of most conflicts. They also provide a basis for cooperation and peaceful coexistence within families and nations, in agricultural, industrial, and technological economies.
Changing our thinking from merely desiring this state to acknowledging in prayer that it is already “at hand” can relieve the fear of what unfolding events may bring. What is experienced as legitimate change on the human scene is the effect of divine Principle coming to light and transforming our world for the better.