The Golden Rule and peace on earth
Recently I have been feeling deep gratitude for the multitudes who are praying for peace and harmony in the world. Even though cultures, faiths, and traditions may differ, this universal acknowledgment of the effectiveness of praying for peace gives me hope that unity among people and nations is a present possibility, even in the midst of what appears to be chaos, hostility, and polarization.
My hope that this universal prayer can bring about harmony and unity comes from something I learned years ago—that there is broad agreement about the observation and practice of what is known as the Golden Rule. Today, according to several internet sources, this “rule” is at the core of over ten religions that span the globe. In other words, a very large part of the global community understands that if we want to be treated with fairness, compassion, and equality, we ourselves should treat others that way.
As a follower of Christianity, I strive to practice the rule as Christ Jesus taught it in his Sermon on the Mount: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12, Revised Standard Version).
By springtime, peace, harmony, and support had not only returned to our neighborhood but felt even stronger than before.
Some might say that it would take more than living the Golden Rule for there to be unity, peace, and harmony in the world—it would take a miracle. And they would likely see such a phenomenon as rare and probably limited to stories in the Bible.
However, Christian Science, or the Science of the Christ, offers a different perception of miracles. For instance, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “A miracle fulfils God’s law, but does not violate that law. . . . The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God’s unchangeable law (pp. 134–135).
It was the primal or fundamental order of God’s unchangeable law, not a supernatural phenomenon, that the disciples witnessed when Jesus calmed a turbulent sea (see Mark 4:37–39) and when he healed a man suffering from paralysis, or palsy (see Mark 2:3–12).
Studying these accounts, I saw the turbulent sea and paralyzed body as analogous to a disquieted world seemingly unable to move forward toward freedom from debilitating physical afflictions and tribulations. Is it possible for us to experience the same unchangeable law of God in action for the world today as Christ Jesus did when he calmed the sea and healed the disabled man? Isn’t this what Christ Jesus promised when he said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father”? And then he made another promise that he would “pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:12, 16).
Understanding that Jesus’ promised Comforter—divine Science, Christian Science—is here to lead me in applying the laws of God to meet every human circumstance, I turned to Science and Health, where I read, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ . . . ” (p. 340).
Unity among people and nations is a present possibility.
What peace and joy come with acknowledging that because there is one infinite God, the truth of God’s unchangeable law is being manifested—in unifying men and nations, in expressing the brotherhood that fulfills the commandment that we love each other as we love ourselves—to the extent that we live the Golden Rule. And it is supremely natural to be obedient to the commandment to love one another when we understand that infinite Mind, God, created everyone in the divine image and likeness, completely good (see Genesis 1).
A few years ago, I saw how practicing the Golden Rule could make more apparent the ongoing presence of God’s kingdom of harmony. A tense and discordant situation erupted in our previously peaceful neighborhood in which everyone had always been supportive of one another. The atmosphere changed suddenly when a newly arrived family seemed to be motivated by anger and intolerance. The once-trusting members of the community became fearful, and consequently started to also show intolerance toward others.
One very cold winter day, my daughter and I were carrying water to our horses in a nearby pasture because the water pump was frozen. On the walk home I began thinking about our new neighbors and realized that I had been cold and inhospitable in my thoughts about them.
At that moment, I felt humbly chastised, as I realized pride had gotten in the way of treating them as I would want to be treated. Acknowledging the simple requirement of the Golden Rule, I began mentally pouring out love toward this family. I began to feel the warmth of that love surrounding me and my daughter.
When my daughter and I returned home from caring for the horses, we baked cookies for our new neighbors as an outward expression of the love I was feeling. After we delivered them, we stopped to water the horses again. To our happy surprise, the water pump was no longer frozen, even though the temperature had not changed. Reflecting on this later, I rejoiced at this simple example of the unfolding of “the primal order, establishing the Science of God’s unchangeable law.”
Not long after, others in the community began reaching out to the new neighbors, who in turn expressed kindness. By springtime, peace, harmony, and support had not only returned to our neighborhood but felt even stronger than before.
Christ Jesus promised that we can realize the presence of God’s kingdom and unchangeable law by “repenting”—turning from what the physical senses tell us to the spiritual facts. When we understand and accept that God, Spirit, gives us only these true, spiritual thoughts, then our thinking is established in the kingdom of heaven under the control of God’s unchangeable law. We are free to trust that the Golden Rule can transform the world, and are inspired to embrace and live this hope-filled state of thought that heralded the coming of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).