A healing response to group mentality

How can Jesus’ example help us to dissolve divisive group mentality today? 

Originally published for the Christian Science Sentinel online on July 20, 2023

Our daughter was thrilled to be selected to play on her high school varsity volleyball team as a freshman. However, after the team lost a hard-fought match against a rival school, she came to me in tears. At first, I thought she was upset because they had lost, but then I discovered that that wasn’t the reason. After the crying subsided, she told me about the hateful remarks and name-calling that had been exchanged between the teams. I had heard similar remarks from the players’ parents. The environment was emotionally toxic. 

My daughter and I went to a more isolated part of the gym and began to talk about how we could correct this situation with Christian Science. We started by acknowledging that everyone involved—the teams, coaches, officials, and parents—are all God’s children, reflecting the qualities of their divine Father-Mother. We recognized that love, not anger or meanness, is the nature of God and therefore of God’s offspring. We talked about how seeing everyone in this true light enabled us to replace false characteristics such as aggressiveness and hatred with divine qualities, such as goodness and kindness. We prayed to obey Christ Jesus’ command “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

My daughter and I continued to pray in this way in the following weeks. As our thinking about the situation grew more spiritual, we both felt inspired to take simple actions to improve the atmosphere at the volleyball matches. For example, my daughter would compliment opponents when they made a great play; then after the matches she would visit with them and get to know them. I did the same with parents of the opposing team’s players. The results were amazing. Other players and their parents began to express more kindness, too. The environment at the school’s volleyball tournaments completely changed! The matches remained very competitive, but the emotional toxicity and mean-spirited comments stopped. In fact, by the end of the season, opposing teams were hugging each other, and parents were looking forward to seeing each other the next season.

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