Forbes came out with its 100 Women Who Run The World list last week.
Out of the top ten, six were political leaders. That was heartening to me, at a time when U.S. politics in general can seem a bit disheartening. Women often see things differently than men and can sometimes balance “bare knuckle” politics with a more enlightened perspective.
If Forbes had been around and compiled a similar list at the turn of the 19th century, it would no doubt have included Mary Baker Eddy, a pioneer in Christian metaphysics and health care. She was quite a bold thinker on many levels, including politics.
When the Boston Post asked her in November 1908, “What are your politics?” her published response was:
“Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so, and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others. In reply to a number of requests for an expression of her political views, she has given out this statement: —
I am asked, “What are your politics?” I have none, in
reality, other than to help support a righteous government;
to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself.”
It’s possible that this was a somewhat disappointing response to followers and detractors alike, who may have been hoping for an answer they could either fall in comfortably behind or use to defend a critical opinion of her. She was a controversial figure, arousing deep devotion from her followers and merciless derision from her detractors.
Was her answer to the Boston Post just a safe political response? I don’t think so. It’s more likely that it was completely honest because it fits a life-long pattern of spiritual depth, clarity and honesty in regard to all matters; health, religion, family…and politics.
What about today? Is that a reasonable response to the question, “What are your politics?” I think it is. Using the two great Christian commandments, loving God supremely and your neighbor as yourself, as a lens through which to view the political scene is a healthy thing to do. It’s a good way to separate the true from the false, the permanent from the transient, and in the end make wise decisions about what and whom we support.
Loving God more than a political ideology, and loving my neighbor enough to hear and consider his view is working for me. Learning to listen honestly to political ideas radically different from my own isn’t always easy. Responding gracefully is a challenge at times. But the reward is a growing sense of clarity and calmness about what I think and how I’ll vote. I really value this. I’ve learned that I can’t think and reason clearly with a closed or angry mind. “Righteous government” requires more of us, and I’m trying to measure up.
Healthy politics has benefitted in the past, and is benefitting even more today, from some great women’s examples. And I’m grateful for that.