If I get more, you don’t get less.
By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
I’ve been thinking about events in Wisconsin and Ohio lately: large demonstrations at the capitol, anger over moves to limit collective bargaining, political maneuverings in the legislature, and demonstrations right here in Oregon supporting the unions in Wisconsin. There’s a lot of energy and emotion around unions and collective bargaining right now.
Collective bargaining is not unfamiliar to me. I was a member of a union once when I worked in a plant making roof trusses. I wasn’t in that job very long, though, so my union membership was short-lived. Not too long into my career in the sheriff’s office, though, I became involved with unions, this time on the side of management. I guess I had an interest in how organizations work, and how people work together to achieve a common goal for the benefit of others. Since I worked in a public organization, our efforts were to benefit the public. Not unlike my job now as the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon. I think my boss also liked the way I approached people coming together to resolve differences, or define their relationship.
I represented the sheriff’s office many times at the bargaining table to negotiate benefits, pay, working conditions and to hear grievances by employees who felt they had been treated unfairly by management. Through all of these opportunities for conflict and discord I was able to maintain respectful, professional, and downright friendly relationships with the union. They even gave me a plaque of appreciation when I was reassigned and no longer participated in labor relations.
You might think there was lots of money to hand out to the union and that’s why we got along. Actually, it was very much the opposite. Our county has the next to lowest tax base in the state of Oregon. I had a hand in many painful cuts in services and personnel. Some good people lost their job because there just wasn’t enough money. And yet I was respected by the union.
Why was that? Well, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I’m a charismatic fellow that people are naturally attracted to. And I’m pretty sure they weren’t afraid to challenge me if they were unhappy. In fact, they did. My sense of it is that my view of life, which I learned from the study of Christian Science, had everything to do with it.
You see, collective bargaining seems to always start from the premise that there’s limited resources and it’s a zero-sum game. If you get more , I get less… and vice versa. And it’s always measured in terms of money, or what it can buy–like benefits. I didn’t view it that way.
In my own life, I’ve always had what I needed. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been times when it seemed there wouldn’t be enough money to pay the bills or feed the kids. But I’ve always known that our needs would be met. And they always have been. How so? Because I understand that there’s a God who is able to meet the needs of my family at the dinner table as well as the needs of all those sitting at the bargaining table.
Understanding God brings His unlimited supply into our experience. That doesn’t mean only some are the recipient of his goodness, but ALL are. Having my needs met doesn’t mean there isn’t enough to meet someone else’s need. Every single person can have their needs met through this understanding. Not necessarily in the form we would choose, but certainly in a way that meets our need. This was the thought that I would always take to the table when bargaining with the union. I was praying during those sessions–which sometimes lasted all night long–to know that God had the answers we needed to come to an amicable agreement that would satisfy both sides of the table.
Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who discovered Christian Science, has some powerful things to say about God’s ability to meet our needs in her book Science and Health. In one place, and this is one of my favorites, she says “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.” [page 3]
I find that gratitude for the good “already received” is the key to bringing more goodness into our lives. Now here’s the powerful thing about this: Christian Science doesn’t own gratitude! We all own it as God’s creation, and we all can feel gratitude for the good in our lives.
No, it’s not a zero-sum game in the final analysis. It’s an opportunity to see the unlimited supply of God brought to light when conventional, limiting assumptions are set aside. Then the needs of those sitting around the table will be met. And for that I am very grateful. I’m praying to understand and know that God’s infinite supply will meet the needs of all the players–union and management–in Wisconsin, and right here in Oregon.
Entry filed under: Christian Science, God, Science and Health, Uncategorized. Tags: career, Christian Science, Divine Love, emotions, Experience, God, good, philosophy, prayer, principles, Reality, self government, spiritual laws, truth, universe.