Many of us grew up saying the pledge of allegiance at school every morning in the classroom. The every-dayness of it set it firmly in memory and perhaps in disposition as well. I saw a little video recently of a father and son reciting a different, home-made pledge.
The father was dropping his son off at school, but before the child got out of the car they said together:
“Today is going to be a good day. I thank God for waking me up today. I’m going to school so I can learn and go to college and be the leader that God has made me to be. When I am presented with a negative influence or conflict, I think before I react. I ask questions if I don’t understand. I am learning so I can serve my community, my country, and God. I accept the responsibility and I love the challenge. Today is going to be a good day.”
Every day before I start my day, I have a similar pledge I say to myself. It’s a rule for motives and acts, penned by Mary Eddy. I have long since memorized it and it informs my decisions, if not before, then after– when I consider needed self- correction. I like to give thought ahead of time to what kind of person I want to be during my day and I have been helped in decision-making over and over by having this ethical rule to look to.
Here’s just one example of how I applied this standard a few years ago. I was serving as president of a community educational organization and one day a bank statement was inadvertently put in my mailbox. Intuition made me open and examine it, and I saw that something was not right with the organization’s bank accounts. A lot of money had been taken from the savings, which the school’s board had not authorized.
Wondering what to do, I turned to my little rule for motives and acts and found the guidance to take quick steps that preserved the integrity of the organization’s financial resources and also brought out needed honesty and trustworthiness in the treasurer. She confessed that she had been “borrowing” the funds to meet her own bills and promised to quickly pay them back, which she did. We didn’t have a big scandal in the organization. She quietly resigned and the group carried on unharmed. This rule helped me respond with brotherliness, timeliness, courage, and wisdom in a situation I had no experience dealing with.
We each have multitudes of choices to make daily. Having some standard to measure ourself against is helpful. As a Christian, I often refer to great standards from the Bible such as the ten commandments, the sermon on the mount of Jesus (chapters 5-7 of the book of Matthew), and Paul’s amazing treatise on love in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.
The poet Goethe wrote, “Talent is developed in solitude, character in the stream of life.” I would amend this a little to say that character is developed both in solitude, when you ponder these great standards of humanity and ethics, and then put into practice when rubbing elbows with one’s neighbors.
I am grateful that I have not had to develop all my own rules for guidance. Considering these ethical gems in solitude, the wisdom of God and the ages becomes available to me in the rough and tumble stream of life when I am called to put my pledge into effect.
Would you like to read the rule for motives and acts that I ponder daily? Here it is:
“Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a Christian Scientist reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The members of this Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing or being influenced erroneously.”
Man. page 40