Most established news organizations are mission-driven, with deep convictions about the civic value of news, even though they must survive as businesses. And most journalists – even at their most cynical and pessimistic – hold sacred the values of truth and integrity.
But The Christian Science Monitor’s mission is unique. It’s a fundamentally Christian mission that is in no way exclusively Christian or exclusive of anyone. It serves Christian Scientists, but in a way that is useful and, we hope, ultimately uplifting to everyone of any religious or nonreligious viewpoint.
We have a bias, and we’re owning it. It’s a bias for healing.
The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, launched it as a daily newspaper with the object “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” That “all mankind” part doesn’t exclude anyone, anywhere. It includes Monitor readers and people who never will be. It includes thriving Swedish entrepreneurs, wounded US veterans, crowded Chinese factory workers, Central Asian presidents-for-life, newly middle-class Nigerians, and retired American suburbanites. It includes liberals and conservatives. It includes you, reading these words now.
The fundamentally – but not exclusively – Christian aspect of the Monitor’s mission lies in caring about others. The Monitor assumes its readers are people who care, who want to care, regardless of their religious or political mindset. Nothing is more fundamental to Christianity than love, than caring. One of the two great commandments Jesus cited is to love our neighbors as ourselves. And he made clear that our neighbors were not just the people living next door. Our neighbors are everyone who crosses our path or enters our consciousness.
And caring about our neighbors begins with knowing something about them – how they’re doing, what they need, what their challenges are.
On Friday, to take a small example, the Monitor website introduced readers to newly middle class people in Thailand who are protesting an anti-democratic military coup by silently reading George Orwell’s “1984” in public places. They are trying to avoid confrontation while signaling their dismay at political unfairness.
Now, you may ask, is this my problem? That is, assuming you don’t live in Thailand.
Well, for any of us who have ever felt unfairly excluded by authority figures or social groups, perhaps it is. Perhaps we can learn something from the approach of these nonconfrontational Thais. They are acting with courage, as many fellow protesters have been jailed. They are showing discipline and restraint. And they are showing some cleverness as well. That doesn’t make their cause right, but it shows some admirable and constructive qualities.
Or perhaps some of us have healed issues like this in our own lives and can look at Thailand with different, more perceptive and hopeful, eyes. The Christian Science perspective is that God is Love, Truth, and Principle, and that means that fairness and honesty will ultimately prevail. If we keep looking, we will see them emerge.
Some of us will even be moved to action, whether that’s by praying or organizing some more tangible way of supporting Thai democracy. But any increment of knowing, of understanding, narrows differences and brings us a little closer together.
Mrs. Eddy believed healing was possible. More than that, she believed it was inevitable. “[P]rogress is the law of God ... ,” she wrote in her seminal work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 233).
Therein lies the Monitor’s fundamental optimism. That’s our other bias. It’s not about avoiding or playing down bad news. We believe bad news needs to be surfaced, addressed, and understood more deeply. But we’re looking for progress. We’re progress-minded. We believe that healing is inevitable and that eventually it will surface – in the news. When the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned Friday over the scandalous treatment of veterans at VA hospitals, the Monitor’s story reported on “3 big ideas for his successor to fix the VA.” No progress is yet apparent on fixing the VA’s problems. But the Monitor is actively looking for it.
As progress emerges, it’s important to acknowledge it. That way, it doesn’t just bless the veterans who need and deserve the best care we can give them. When we see and acknowledge healing, it blesses us as well. Hope grows there. Confidence grows there. And hope and confidence open the way to more healing, more progress.