When painful memories are faced and healed
When I was a high school student, our class took a field trip off campus. Students who had cars agreed to have others carpool with them. After driving for a few minutes, the student driver of the car I was in slammed on his brakes to avoid colliding with another vehicle. He simultaneously screamed a warning at the other driver, and then, to my surprise, out of his mouth came the “N-word,” uttered with what felt like brute force and contempt.
At that point, the other classmates I was with, who were white, glanced at me, the only Black student in the car, in embarrassment. The rest of the car trip was filled with awkward silence. Once back at school, I tried as best I could to erase the dismay from my thoughts, and from then on I distanced myself from those particular students.
I hadn’t thought about that incident for decades—not until the protests against police brutality and racial inequality in the United States began to dominate news headlines this year. Now an adult who has been a practicing student of Christian Science for many years, I asked myself whether I was satisfied leaving that high school experience the way it ended. No, I thought. Instead, I saw that now was the perfect time and opportunity to apply the truths of Christian Science to this situation and to free myself from the picture of hatred that I had witnessed.
As I reached out to God for guidance, this statement from the book of Malachi in the Bible popped into thought: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (2:10 ).
My prayers began by affirming in earnest that God, Spirit, is the one heavenly Father-Mother of us all. I then acknowledged that God is Love, as the Bible declares, and that a loving God could not and did not create His spiritual offspring to live in enmity with each other. I persistently affirmed that every child that God created is “very good” and is indeed His exact image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27, 31 ). Man’s spiritual nature is therefore free from any form of evil. These truths lifted my thought above the false claim that life is essentially a corporeal, mortal experience, where both good and evil exist, side by side.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has given humanity the Science of good, which reveals the impossibility that infinite God, good, could produce an opposite nature named evil. She writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Good cannot result in evil. As God Himself is good and is Spirit, goodness and spirituality must be immortal. Their opposites, evil and matter, are mortal error, and error has no creator. If goodness and spirituality are real, evil and materiality are unreal and cannot be the outcome of an infinite God, good” (p. 277 ).
I felt healed of any consternation that had been swept under the proverbial rug for decades.
This radical perspective that Spirit, infinite good, is the origin and source of all existence is what I had found appealing and transformative when I was introduced to Christian Science. So as I prayed, I mentally insisted that these foundational truths were powerful and unchanging and had governed me right in the middle of that high school car ride with my peers. In fact, these truths were governing all even now. This left no room for false concepts such as strife and hatred to take root or leave an impression.
Knowing deeply that all God’s children are the very image and likeness of divine Love, and that their spiritual natures are therefore as loving and lovable as their divine source, brought me a sense of enlightenment and peace. This Christly truth also brought genuine forgiveness of my former classmates. I was especially grateful to feel free and healed of any consternation that had been swept under the proverbial rug for decades.
I decided, too, to search the Scriptures to see where prejudice and discrimination surfaced in Bible accounts and how these issues were addressed. One example in the book of Numbers, chapter 12 , says that Moses’ sister Miriam and brother Aaron criticized him because he had married an Ethiopian woman. The Ethiopians or Cushites were dark-skinned, so it’s possible that Moses’ siblings did not approve of his marriage because it was interracial. The account gives no record that Moses responded to their criticism, but in subsequent verses, God described Moses as a faithful servant. Moses’ true character and commitment to loving service shone through when his compassionate prayers to God for Miriam resulted in her being healed of leprosy.
Moses’ example shows me that when one is criticized or condemned, the most effective response is to prayerfully appeal to the power of ever-present divine Love to heal and save. This does not mean overlooking wrongs. But it does mean that in addition to speaking up when we see instances of prejudice, we can go further by mentally and spiritually separating the false concept of man as prone to evil behaviors from his true, spiritual identity as the upright offspring of divine Love.
Seeing racial and ethnic differences among people in a spiritual light is one way we can actively contribute to healing racial strife.
Science and Health describes man’s spiritual heritage this way: “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry” (p. 63 ). What a strong correction this spiritual fact is to the false but popular belief that man has a material selfhood that is unresponsive to Truth and inclined to act based on brute instinct.
I am deeply grateful for this Christianly scientific view of reality, which authorizes me to affirm that all of God’s children, regardless of race or ethnicity, have the same infinite, divine source of heavenly good—and to expect to see this manifested as brotherly love in our interactions with each other. Consistently seeing racial and ethnic differences among people in a spiritual light is one way we, as spiritual thinkers, can actively contribute to healing racial strife.