TELEVISION NEWS reports of shattered lives come right into my living room. The tear-stained faces of the victims of terrorism in war-torn corners of the world make me stop in my tracks. I can't control my own tears. The faces I'm seeing could belong to my children or my neighbors' children, my husband, an elderly aunt, my closest friend. How on earth do you pray in circumstances like these? You feel so helpless and hopeless.

I switch the TV off. I can't bear to watch any more. "Stop, please stop," my mind calls out. I go to my desk with my Bible and its companion, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, looking for solace. At first I feel totally numb, just staring into space. Then I begin to pray in earnest. My first thought is that I must not allow myself to become another kind of victim by joining the ranks of those viewers and newspaper readers who are persuaded by those vivid images to hate the people who commit such atrocities. Sometimes the hatred rising in my heart is so strong that I begin to judge openly and think cruel thoughts about the perpetrators. But the more I pray, the more clearly I see that what I have come to know as terrorism is little short of a form of mass hatred. We are being lured into hating particular faces we see on TV, or a segment of a community of people with certain views or practices that are different from our own spiritual or cultural traditions. As my perspective changes, my peace of mind is gradually restored. The tears dry up, and I can more easily feel really close to God.

September 11, 2006

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