Freedom from racism and sectarianism
Leide Lessa was the guest on this live JSH-Online chat earlier this year. Leide’s great-grandmother was a slave in Brazil who married a native Brazilian. Later, the family evolved to include Europeans and Lebanese. So for her, this topic has a special resonance. Leide is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science who lives near Boston, Massachusetts. This chat has been edited for readability. To hear the whole chat, go to sentinel.christianscience.com/free-from-racism.
I don’t hate anyone, but I’m afraid of people who act threateningly, especially if they are of a different race or background than I am. How can I overcome that?
God is Love, and we can only have loving interactions with others. When we love God above all and we learn how to love ourselves, we will love others.
Once, when I arrived at my sister’s house, four young men of color wanted to take the car. One of them pointed a gun at me, but I felt so much love toward that man. I kept telling myself: “He can’t do that. He is the beloved child of God. He is loving, and he can only see the Christ in me.”
He asked for my purse, and I said, “Oh no, please, I need my documents.” Then one of the other guys said, “Let’s go and leave her with her purse.” So they took the car and left. I started praying immediately. The car was found intact on the same day, and two of those four men were also found.
So, everything starts in your thought. When you learn how to love God, and how to love your neighbor unconditionally, then you feel that you are always protected, because God loves you regardless of who is around you. Human hatred, regardless of where it comes from, can never reach you because, as Mary Baker Eddy says, you can feel “clad in the panoply of Love …” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 571).
I work in a store with individuals with different backgrounds. I love and appreciate them, but they don’t always get along with each other. This tends to create an ugly atmosphere, and sometimes drives customers away. How can I change things for the better?
You have a great opportunity to heal that situation. You can pray so that God will inspire you to take right actions, and they don’t need to be big. Sometimes a word here and there, an invitation to get everyone together—anything that prayer leads you to do will lead to a healing result.
Of course, every situation is unique, so I cannot tell you exactly what to do. But we know that by praying specifically, affirming in your thought that peace is supreme, that harmony is the only order of God’s creation, harmony can really govern the whole environment of that store, and you can make a difference.
I love to think that divine Love goes to every single corner of the place where I am. So, you can think that divine Love is present in every single corner of that store and is supreme. You can affirm that harmony, order, love, balance, intelligence, good interaction, good behavior, happiness, joy—all those qualities belong to divine Love, and belong to us wherever we are because we are God’s creation.
You and those people, regardless of differences in their backgrounds, cultures, or languages, are all God’s creation and are one with God. When we stop seeing differences, when we establish that order, harmony, is the law that governs our lives and every business—including the business where you work—there will be changes.
The important thing is to trust your prayers—don’t doubt them! Pray with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your understanding. Know and trust that “divine Love corrects and governs man,” as Mary Baker Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 6), and then you are going to see Love’s government established in that business.
Could you comment on the idea of diversity from a spiritual perspective?
For me, diversity is really a symbol of the infinite ideas and manifestations of God. Diversity is enriching, and empowering, so I like to think that the more you include diversity in your life—be it with your friends or in your family—the more you will experience God’s infinite love, beauty, intelligence.
This kind of thinking and attitude has a ripple effect. As you include more diversity in your circle of friends, family, or colleagues, you are expanding this concept of ideas, of different qualities. By doing this, we are expressing love.
I also like to think that we need to go to our origin, to our spiritual nature, our true essence, to help heal the hatred, anger, fear, and other suggestions associated with discrimination. When we truly understand and feel that we are the image and likeness of God, and that God is Mind, we understand also that Mind is the only source of intelligence, the only source of reasoning—of creation. It follows that real reasoning cannot include prejudice or hatred. It can only be pure.
God is Love, and God is the only source of pure sentiments and feelings, so all the qualities of Love belong to each one of us. We all—anyone, anywhere in the world—can express these qualities in our own unique ways, and we can appreciate everyone’s individuality without forgetting that we are all God’s complete ideas by knowing that they are unique. We can see diversity even in fingerprints, right? No two people are alike, and all the spiritual qualities they express are wonderful. Let us really see more and more spiritual qualities expressed in others, and then we will help to eliminate and to heal any sense of discrimination, of hatred, of racism, anywhere.
What do you think is most needed to heal racism?
Love. We need to grow in the understanding that God created everyone equal, that God loves everyone, and that there are no differences for God. So, the more we understand the love of God toward us, and toward the whole of humankind, the more we are helping to stop this irrational reasoning that some people are of less value than others, because this is not true. We are all equal.
I love Isaiah 40. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “One day, every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ ” (Isaiah 40:4, 5, “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered in Washington, DC).
So, our hope, our faith with understanding, our unconditional love toward everyone will help to stop racism and discrimination, because discrimination, racism, and prejudice represent lack of love, and with love there is no room for those things—no room for hatred, no room for racism, no room for prejudice.