I have been watching much more news lately and the assignment was a wake-up call. The repetitive news cycle is called a “repetitive news cycle” for a reason. In addition to the sad and worrisome news that is broadcast daily, I’ve noticed that a subtle narrative about the day’s events is often inserted within the news cycle. For example, it seems news anchors are much more willing to characterize the news itself as “depressing” these days. The spring weather in the north east was “depressing” according to our weatherman; our local roads and tunnels are in “depressing” condition; and the lack of political dialogue and congressional gridlock is “depressing,” to list a few new reports I’ve heard tagged with the “depressing” label. I am not saying everything is great. But the belief of depression is so widespread today that it is not a coincidence that the repetitive framing of the news through the “lens of depression” helps to broadcast and contribute to the contagion.
The adjective “depressing” passes by so quickly in our conversations that it is often accepted without question or challenge. I was grateful to find an antidote in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. I looked up “cheerful” and “cheer” and related forms of the word in Concord and was surprised to see she used the terms as strong and fundamental parts of Christian Science healing practice – and not merely as descriptions of a mood or a lighthearted state of mind. She expressed gratitude for cheerful and obedient members: “My soul thanks the loyal, royal natures of the beloved members of my church who cheerfully obey God and steadily go on promoting the true Principle of Christian Science. Only the disobedient spread personal contagion, and any imaginary benefit they receive is the effect of self-mesmerism, wherein the remedy is worse than the disease.” My. 118:1
To Mrs. Eddy, “cheerfully” described the proper mental stance and attitude when fighting the worst phases of evil: “During this final conflict, wicked minds will endeavor to find means by which to accomplish more evil; but those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection.” SH 96:31 And she reminded us that the source of this cheer is the same “light of Truth” that provides immunity from sickness: ‘The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth, to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection, — that calms man’s fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death.” Mis. 320:9
Her consistently strong and clear use of “cheerfully” and “cheer” means she expected more than expressing a Pollyannaish worldview, trying to keep a stiff upper lip, or having a hail-fellow-well-met human personality. To me, this deeper understanding of “cheer” represents the stance she expected us all to take (and maintain) in opposition to the broadcast view that events are, in substance, depressing. Our “cheerfulness” is an essential part of the disposition toward healing she expected Christian Scientists to possess and that disposition is effective to combat the contagion of depression. This uncovering has alerted me to the need to live more within the Science of Christ when confronting the depressing view of life in matter presented daily to all of us. The daily and hourly work necessary to maintain this “new view” has helped me find both newness in the world, and a better sense of our true immunity from depression and other “broadcast powers of evil” calling for attention in this age. (SH 65:13)