Defusing hate. Living love.
A mere four chapters into the Bible, we find the first account of hatred and its effects in the story of brothers Cain and Abel, whose relationship devolved into jealousy and murder. Thousands of years after Cain and Abel, injustice, tyranny, jealousy, and anger still lead people all over the world to despise, misjudge, hurt, and even kill each other. In response, we offer our sympathies, perplexed by the inhumanity of hatred and its consequences. But regardless of when and how division and hatred began, the greater question is whether genuine reformation, forgiveness, love, and unity are possible in the face of these plagues.
While it is natural to sympathize with those who’ve suffered from the consequences of hatred, human sympathy alone is not strong enough to compel real change or progress. So we call for justice, but even human justice does not completely heal. It may correct a particular situation and punish the person who has harmed or killed another, but it does not fully get at the roots and hurt of bigotry and anger, or cure victimization.
There is, however, a spiritual power that can root out evil. It can neutralize hate, overturn bigotry and prejudice, debunk stereotypes, and redeem human behavior. It can mend broken hearts and free us from grief and fear. It is the power of God, divine Love. And proving its healing impact starts in our own hearts.
Every single one of us is called upon to examine our lives, and a psalm in the Bible offers a great place to begin: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23, 24).
This humble prayer may not be easy to offer in earnest, but as we yield to it, we feel the cleansing action of God, divine Love, entering the depths of our soul and revealing every unloving concept we may, even subtly, be harboring. The continuous action of divine Love is a law, which Christ Jesus exemplified through his ministry and Mary Baker Eddy made known through her discovery of Christian Science. This law of Love is universal; no one can ever be beyond the redeeming and restoring power of Love.
What does this law of Love do? It destroys ungodlike, unloving qualities and reveals our true, spiritual selfhood as the expression of God, Love—of patience, kindness, and charity. We begin to see more of our true nature and that of others, and we discover that we are not good or bad mortals striving to be better, but God’s immortal children, the spiritual expressions of Love’s own being. As Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being” (p. 63).
What a difference it makes in how we think and act when we start by genuinely feeling some measure of the fact that we are all God’s children and that it is infinite Love that we want to govern our hearts and our thoughts toward others. We realize that we live in God’s universe—where divine Love reigns supreme. This allows us to love each other as brothers and sisters of the highest sort: as children of God.
Last summer, people in my community protested peacefully against hate and bigotry. But one night, riots broke out in our downtown shopping district. There was looting and destruction and, unfortunately, one injury. Early the next morning more than seven hundred area residents cleaned up the destruction. That day my son, who is a person of color, was also there, supporting high school students, including pupils he had worked with, who were endeavoring to show their love by placing paper hearts on the boarded-up windows. They were met by individuals who were full of rage about the rioting the night before and were aiming their fury at the students. My son came home really shaken.
I so yearned for everyone to accept what the Bible says: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). I knew I had to accept this myself, and love all involved, not just those I agreed with. It wasn’t easy. But I knew I could take only one side: the side of acknowledging that everyone is a child of God right now, the very expression of God’s love. Anger, victimization, self-justification, and prejudice are defused by divine Love. I felt the power and presence of Love, and my thought changed; I became more compassionate and glimpsed the depths of true Christian love that embraces all.
Since these events, my prayers have continued, and my son has overcome various economic and employment challenges. Businesses that were looted have come back. The mayor announced the formation of a Human Rights Commission in cooperation with the Justice Department. And the city has committed to engaging with a diverse set of groups about race and equality.
Instead of being caught up in the highly charged swirl of human events, we can and must align our thoughts with our Father-Mother’s gentle, correcting, joyous, comforting, and defusing love. Such prayer will enable us to increasingly witness the reign of God’s will of justice, forgiveness, and peace “in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Thomas Mitchinson, Guest Editorial Writer