By Nathan A. Talbot
From the July 1977 issue of The Christian Science Journal
Sir Winston Churchill observed, "It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." 1 Certainly democracy has proved itself, among human systems of government, to be of enormous support to the development and progress of human liberties.
Of the significant documents that have clearly advanced the element of independence in mankind's search for freedom, two stand out as having made an especially unique contribution. More than seven centuries ago the Magna Charta—the Great Charter—of political and civil liberties was signed. This step marked a beginning of democracy in England. It was the cornerstone for a budding recognition of the significance of independence for mankind.
The Declaration of Independence of the United States moves another year now beyond its two centuries of service. This document—which acknowledges a birthright of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for its citizens—proclaims an invaluable standard of justice, freedom, and equality.
This noble form of government, democracy itself, provides an ideal climate for awakening to government rooted in spirituality. This government will someday be understood as true government. It is rightly defined as self-government. While democracy encourages and fosters the appearing of the proper kind of self-government, Christian Science brings to light its deep implications. It explains this self-government within the framework of its own Magna Charta and Declaration of Independence.
"The Magna Charta of Christian Science," writes Mrs. Eddy, "means much, multum in parvo,—all-in-one and one-in-all. It stands for the inalienable, universal rights of men. Essentially democratic, its government is administered by the common consent of the governed, wherein and whereby man governed by his creator is self-governed." 2
What does it mean to be self -governed? Does it make a particular human personality the sole decider of what duties, obligations, and opportunities he will assume? Actually it does just the opposite. Proper self-government accepts God as the sole cause. A true basis for self-government can be found only as we understand our true selfhood.
Man's true self is not personal. It is not a mortal entity. It is not separate from God or independent of Truth. Rather, it is independent of all that is unlike Truth. Man's true being, his true selfhood, is expressive of the very nature of God. His relationship to God is not divisible. But this identity is still individual. It remains unique and distinctive. Because God is Life, man eternally lives. Because God is Mind, man is forever conscious. Because God is Love, man is unceasingly loving. The very substance of man's selfhood is inseparably united to God. Man's perfect and only being acts in full accord with perfect God. God is the only cause. Man is His effect.
As we begin to exercise proper self-government, we are actually beginning to learn to be governed by God, because He is the only source of our selfhood. To be governed by anything less than this source of our true being would introduce doubt, restriction, imbalance into our lives. From the standpoint of absolute Truth, this is an impossibility. True self-government always grows out of man's genuine spiritual selfhood, which is rooted in Truth. As we yield to this governing power, we begin to lose the limitations of mortality.
Mrs. Eddy writes: "Like our nation, Christian Science has its Declaration of Independence. God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love." 3
Mankind feels a deep desire to move toward greater freedom. While momentous human documents may signify major steps of progress in past centuries, they only begin to hint at the kind of full independence called for by Christian Science—a freedom from all mortal restrictions.
Each of us senses in some way the urge for greater independence. One individual may feel the political system under which he lives is encroaching upon cherished liberties. Another may wish to be free of the burden of excessive government regulation. Most people feel dependent upon the body for health and yearn to be independent of its specific discords. An entire country may seek independence in politics or perhaps in energy supply.
Restrictions can be successfully overcome, whether they are major encroachments on civil liberties or minor inconveniences. Our normal tendency may be to contend with the human powers that seem to deprive us of our full freedom. But the solution will come not so much from struggling against the human institutions of power as learning to exercise true self-government. As we do learn it, we begin to find full and enduring liberty from every limiting mortal concept. This freedom may come first on an individual basis, but it eventually grows into a blessing for all mankind and brings enlightenment to the governmental process.
Christ Jesus' whole life teaches the lesson of self-government. "I can of mine own self do nothing," 4he said, and later emphasized, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." 5 Was there ever a man more independent of human limitations? His unequaled freedom enabled him to awaken others to their true selfhood— their self-government—and thereby to their real independence.
Full independence was not won at the signing of the Magna Charta nor at the issuance of the Declaration of Independence. As much as we benefit by these documents, the winning of our true and complete independence is our life's work. Mrs. Eddy counsels, "Reflecting God's government, man is self-governed." 6
We day by day win our independence from confining mortal circumstances in the proportion we place our entire dependence upon God as the only governing reality in our lives.
Nathan A. Talbot
1 Speech, House of Commons, November 1947;↑ 2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 246-247;↑ 3 Science and Health, p. 106;↑ 4 John 5:30;↑ 5 14:10;↑ 6 Science and Health, p. 125.↑