I prayed on the day George Floyd, a Black man, died at the hands of a white officer while in police custody. My prayer went something like this: “What, Lord? What do I think? What do I do?”
There was something especially unsettling about the nature of Mr. Floyd’s death. It was such a bold affront against humanity. Yet the broadcast of a death under similar circumstances, filmed on cell phones by witnesses, is something we have seen, heard, and read about many times before.
Injustice is not just an affront against humanity, it is a bold affront against God, divine Love.
My prayer on that day led me to read through the weekly Bible Lesson in the Christian Science Quarterly many times. It contained powerfully healing passages from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and I held close to them that whole week, praying to know that the Holy Spirit was with me and all.
Because of healings I have experienced over several decades in my practice of Christian Science, I know with conviction that God loves every one of us as His children. And I know that God is Life itself. So, I continued to pray knowing that I would have a satisfying answer to my initial question: “What, Lord?”
My answer came when I read this statement in Science and Health: “Evil has no power, no intelligence, for God is good, and therefore good is infinite, is All” (pp. 398–399). On reading this, I realized instantly that the kind of injustice suffered by Mr. Floyd, and the broader societal circumstances that allow such terrible events to occur, are not just an affront against humanity, they are a bold affront against God, divine Love. With that realization my spiritual resolve was renewed. I know there is no power greater than, equal to, or other than God. And my conviction echoed these words from the prophet Nahum in the Bible: “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble. . . . What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end” (Nahum 1:7, 9).
There has been promising evidence of a turn in the direction of rejecting evil. The officers involved in the death of Mr. Floyd were arrested. There have been global protests of people from different ethnicities, nationalities, and socioeconomic and racial groups pointing to and embracing the fact that Black lives matter. There has also been an outcry to heal racism, which the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
There are many times in my life when my understanding of my own and others’ identity as a child of God has combated instances of racism.
When the Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, speaks of how to heal sickness in her seminal work, Science and Health, she speaks of being alert to the fact that, to those who are ill, “sickness is more than fancy; it is solid conviction.” This can be said of sin, too. As I pray about the sin of racism, I find this idea instructive because it says to me that the pervasive conviction called “racism” needs to be taken seriously in our prayers, challenged, and healed. Science and Health shares how to handle a “solid conviction” and heal it. It is to be dealt with and destroyed “through right apprehension of the truth of being” (p. 460).
As I prayerfully consider the “right apprehension of the truth of being,” I think about my own identity as a Black man, and the identity of other Black men and women, and I am reminded of my favorite explanation of what we all truly are, which also appears in Science and Health: “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (p. 477).
When I unpack this sentence, I come up with the following essential standards or truths about our identity: We are each the reflection of Spirit, God; we reflect Spirit, God, now; what we are, and all that we truly are, is made of the spiritual substance of God; God is infinite Love; we are Love’s reflection; God is All; therefore, we are each God’s child, Spirit’s image and likeness.
There are many, many times in my life when the realization of these truths has protected me. My understanding of my own and others’ identity as a child of God has gloriously combated instances of racism. (For example, see “From racial profiling to ‘You are my brother,’ ” Sentinel, March 7, 2011.)
I have also learned that meekness in the presence of Almighty God is not weakness, but strength. There are numerous examples of people from humble beginnings in the Bible who walked with God, and acknowledged God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. Their reflection of the presence and power of divine Love was able to part seas, stop wars, save thousands from famine. And in the life and example of Jesus, the Son of God, his pure sense of God’s ever-presence and all-power healed and transformed lives and forever changed the world.
The accounts of Jesus’ healings show us we are each the reflection of the Almighty God, so none of us are inferior to anyone else, nor can we be made to feel inferior. No one can truly be, nor accurately pronounce himself or herself to be, superior to another individual, because there is none greater than God, whom we all reflect.
It’s true that every Black life matters, because each and every one of us is equally essential to God, made in God’s own image and likeness, spiritual and good. This spiritual reality removes the grip of any “solid conviction” to the contrary. This is how I am taking steps to heal racism. Holding a correct, purely spiritual view of each of us as God’s loved creation protects and heals.