Violence that follows in the path of human aggression seems very present in the world. But there is something else that is visibly developing, and that is the conviction that evil and violence aren't simply inevitable. We don't have to cower before them as a cornered animal would shrink back from a menacing predator.
It's difficult sometimes to measure such moral and spiritual evolution. But when one moves from timid anxiety to the conviction that the world itself moves at the impulse of something far more profound and powerful than chaos and darkness, then people and periods move into a position to explore the power of God, divine Love.
There is a state of human consciousness, however, that simulates a bogus peace, when people concede to wrong and injustice and make unholy adjustments. There's usually a narcotizing effort at such a stage of struggle to dull one's hopes and spiritual aspirations so that disappointment isn't too sharply felt and doesn't become unbearable. In a way, this is often what the human, or mortal, mind does to fabricate stability and peace in life.
This is nothing new. The prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament saw this futile mental process happening to the children of Israel. Their early, original hope for a new and free life in God's promised land had receded from memory, and the social conditions of the people of the covenant had become barely distinguishable from the injustices of other nations—injustices they had originally spurned. "Every one," the prophet said, "from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness .... For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."Jer. 8:10, 11.
Jeremiah was often viewed as a pest, a troublemaker. He was even tied up and imprisoned in an effort to silence him. But he had caught a vision of God's followers, as had a few others before him, as a people united in service to a good and just God. His love for God and his solicitude for his people's well-being impelled reformation instead of looking the other way and attempting to avoid dealing with wrong.
We're seeing similar actions by reformers and reform movements today in many places. But it's especially important to realize that within each individual lies the power of God, and His Christ. This power is a spiritual force, a law actually, that breaks the impositions of evil that claim to enslave human minds even as they threaten to injure people and homes and nations.
A preliminary step to realizing God's goodness and power is a movement from materialism to spiritual-mindedness. As long as one views himself or herself as fundamentally mortal, hopelessly limited, this is the enslavement. Genuine reform comes as we learn to think as children of God, to identify ourselves as expressions of His being. And to realize one's own spiritual nature is at the same time to begin to recognize this God-given identity in all people.
It's especially important
to realize that within each
individual lies the power of
God, and His Christ. This
power is a spiritual force.
Such a recognition impels a radically different starting point for reason, hope, and action. The general process of human thinking begins with physical conditions and then, if demoralization is not too great, seeks to alter them, sometimes by calling upon divine intervention to initiate change. But such an effort is limited from the outset if one accepts the immovability of the human condition and views God, at best, as merely a transcendent and distant quasi-reality. "Popular theology," Mary Baker Eddy writes in Unity of Good, "makes God tributary to man, coming at human call; whereas the reverse is true in Science." Un., p. 13.
To begin with the reality and omnipotence of God as the one Mind and Principle of all, and then to look outward with conviction of the naturalness of goodness, freedom, and health, bring us into accord with divine Truth. Such reasoning is prayer, and this prayer works to unslave people by showing them how to think as children of God.
Evil, in the form of sickness or sin—individually or collectively as in communities and nations—is brought down as it is deprived of agreement or consent in individual conscience and action. In the same book cited above, Mrs. Eddy describes the mental process that builds up evil in thought as well as the process that dismantles it.
Evil gains illegitimate authority through three false arguments. She writes:
"First: The Lord created it.
Second: The Lord knows it.
Third: I am afraid of it."
Then Mrs. Eddy goes on to explain: "By a reverse process of argument evil must be dethroned:—
First: God never made evil.
Second: He knows it not.
Third: We therefore need not fear it." Ibid., p. 20.
The latter process is far more than intellectual or forensic gymnastics. Fearlessness comes from an understanding that God is wholly good and evil is wholly illegitimate and actually unreal. Perfect Love, or God, is the actual source of this understanding. This divine Love ends fear, in the process destroying hate and evil-mindedness.
If divine Love is the highest and purest idea of divinity—and it is—then hate and disregard for the welfare of others are the highest attenuation of evil. If we were to make a list of evils in their various aspects, hatred might simply be one item in a long list. But hatred is antithetic to life and to genuine intelligence, which reflect God. And to overcome hate in one's own consciousness is to destroy the motive power of evil in all its varied forms. It was his response to pure, divine Love that saved Christ Jesus' life. Not only on the cross, but at every juncture—where sin, disease, ignorance, disdain, spiritual dullness, and chaos argued against the all-presence of his heavenly Father and man as His reflection—Jesus' deepest response was to the presence of divine Love.
Hate is born of fear. Hate forms its own enemies from what it fears, and then seeks to destroy. By its very ignorance of God, divine Love, such a state of consciousness is self-destructive; it has no true power or authority. As people begin to see that hate is only destructive, unwillingness to concede either one's feelings or active cooperation with hate undermines the fear that nurtures it. No longer willing to hate, people begin to awake to the truth that true selfhood is God-derived. Eventually, then, man will be found able to possess only the nature and power of reflected divine Love.
It's divine Love that brings reform, restrains evil impulses, fulfills our deepest hopes, and wipes out the dread of disease and discord. The Science of Christianity brings to humanity the knowledge of Life as Love fulfilled and reveals our true nature as free to express the pure goodness of God. Here is born, too, the wisdom that is needed to find our way away from war and death and destruction—national or personal.
We don't need to live in dread when we can now think and live as children of God. The present imperative is to take hold of the Science of life and to bring our lives into accord with its healing and saving law. Then we'll see honesty prevail over deception, mercy over revenge, and compassion will permeate our response to mankind's great spiritual, moral, and physical needs.