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Rising above despotism

A Christian Science perspective: How prayer can help a politically-charged atmosphere.

As we watch the pro-democracy struggle going on in Hong Kong we may wonder – even somewhat fearfully – how this will play out, both for the protesters in Hong Kong and in Beijing. We may be concerned about its impact on the world. Our concerns are not unfounded. History has shown that when people desire freedom to choose their own path, they are often met with resistance. Human nature is not always quick to adjust to a higher sense of justice. But history has also frequently shown that resistance to a right idea does fall away, although often not without a severe struggle.

These struggles, however, always begin as a mental shift: It starts as an awareness of what is wrong in society and grows into a desire to improve the standard for everyone. And that is why prayer – a conscious turning to God to acknowledge and understand God’s power to govern – can help bring out the higher, spiritual ideal that blesses all people involved.

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There are many encouraging examples of the power of prayer to effect changes within a politically charged atmosphere. For instance, the Holy Bible has the experience of Daniel. Daniel was persecuted by an unjust law and won his freedom through prayer to God, enough so that it brought down the oppressive law for all who were being persecuted (see Daniel 6). Later, he described the permanence and power of God’s government: “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).

Daniel saw the rooting out of despotic control through the action of divine power, and we can turn to this same power ourselves. Writing in her textbook on Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy explains how humanity finds freedom from all forms of enslavement: “Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness. Christian Science despoils the kingdom of evil, and pre-eminently promotes affection and virtue in families and therefore in the community” (pp. 102, 103).

Evil and tyranny are undone through the understanding of good. As we begin to understand that God, good, is the only power reigning over all, we discover what Christ Jesus showed us: that we have been given the freedom to express our true nature as God’s children – expressing wisdom, goodness, and fairness. As children of God, no one can be locked forever into a position of bondage, because bondage of any kind is contrary to God. God encompasses all of us within His righteous judgment and justice.

As we pray to understand that God alone governs man, our thought will more and more open to realize our God-given freedom and individual rights. Through this prayer we begin to see that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17).