February is Black History Month in the United States. What a history that is! History is what has happened in the life or development of individuals, a people, a country, even institutions. In this case, the history being celebrated is of blacks who have come from living in slavery to freedom. This month we've been seeing television programs, plays, films, and many accounts attesting to this deliverance.
When African Americans' freedom from the slave market first occurred, many people of all races rejoiced and saw it as quite a victory. And it was. Of course, today we also hear that blacks still have "a way to go" in the realization of their equal rights.
I was brought up in the US before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964—and my views concerning progress in equality were limited. I thought it would be a long time before things would change for the better. I had even heard it said that history repeats itself. This did not mean that the whipping post would return, literally, but that oppression would rise up in other ways. For example, when I was growing up, blacks were often denied equal educational facilities, and had to struggle with limited job opportunities and unfair housing practices.
It wasn't until many years later that my perspective changed radically on the way I felt about freedom, slavery, and human rights. When I began to study Christian Science, I came across these passages in Science and Health, written by Mary Baker Eddy: "The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history, but in spiritual development" (p.547). And this one: "The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking. A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been potent to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping-post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon's mouth. Love is the liberator" (p. 225).
Love, with a capital L, is another name for God. So God is the liberator of all those in oppression of any kind. Based on this metaphysical truth, I began to shift my views of history. As I continued to pray about and study this subject, I found this definition of slave in the dictionary: "a human being who is owned as property by another and is absolutely subject to his will." Based on what I'd been learning, I saw that divine Love frees humanity from all forms of bondage and tyranny. Furthermore, I was seeing that there is only one kind of man, and that is the beloved son or daughter of divine Love.
The real man or woman is the child of God. Therefore, each of us is spiritual. We belong to and are subject only to God's will. And God's will for His/Her children is entirely good. We are Love's property. Love overcomes evil with good. Love liberates. Love frees us from slavery—from any condition of being in submission to or dominated by another person or influence. There are no more plantations or whipping posts. But slavery comes in many forms. How often does one say yes to fear, sin, sickness, addiction? These are just a few of slavery's ongoing forms. Many people can testify to gaining freedom from these and other kinds of tyranny through prayer alone
When we know our inalienable rights, we can exercise our God-given freedom over all forms of slavery. We can stand up for our rights. Freedom, harmony, happiness, health, life—they're all divine rights. They cannot be taken away, because we include them as part of our spiritual individuality. These rights belong to all, and they transcend race, color, creed, nationality, religion. Our divine rights are also our equal rights. And we need to claim them.
Earline Shoemake teaches and practices Christian Science healing in La Mesa, California.