A recent article in a news magazine suggests that mental conflict, confusion, madness, are contagious. The author points to the way people can change rapidly from crowd to mob. He offers a poignant, gradual remedy: ''We must teach our children to live with mortality and mystery, to understand that we cannot endure without forgiveness, and that vendetta, among individuals or nations, is fruitless and barbaric.'' n1
n1 Morris West, Parade Magazine, m June 19, 1983, p. 10.
With due respect to the author's solution, not only forgiveness but individual integrity is needed. In fact it's really the hope of humankind. Integrity in its truest sense is a wholly spiritual element, and since it is spiritual, it's not subject to deterioration. Each of us, in truth, has this integrity by reason of his relationship to God as His image. And this integrity, the purity and wholeness of our true, Godcreated selfhood, is ours to rely on not only for our own safety but for the general welfare of our world.
To the extent that we view ourselves as made up of and surrounded by forces in conflict, we find ourselves at the center of conflict and subject to it. This conflict is resolved not by learning to live with that view of man, but by learning to feel and obey the one infinite God, Spirit, as the only power determining our nature. Individual integrity is not something we have to willfully or blindly impose upon the chaos of mortality. It is an aspect of God's orderly spiritual creation, which is increasingly brought to light as we acknowledge man's true nature and live it.
It's not exaggerating to say that every case of deliverance through prayer, whether in Bible times or today, illustrates to a degree the indivisibility, or integrity, of man's true, spiritual individuality. That Jesus could walk through an angry crowd unharmed and, more important, triumph over crucifixion; that Paul could survive stonings and beatings - these are not only testimonies to the willingness of Spirit to save. They are also evidence that Spirit's own invulnerability is a characteristic of the individuality Spirit creates.
Pointing to Jesus' resurrection, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''The individuality of man is no less tangible because it is spiritual and because his life is not at the mercy of matter. The understanding of his spiritual individuality makes man more real, more formidable in truth, and enables him to conquer sin, disease, and death.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 317.
If we are caught up with the false view that fear, anger, or conflict is inherent in man, we might ask ourselves the question asked in Corinthians, ''Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?'' n3 The contagion that needs halting is the fear-breeding assumption that man is other than the individual Spirit creates and motivates; that there is authority or power in any other influence than the divine influence which was at work in Jesus.
n3 I Corinthians 3:16.
The Christ, the influence of divine Spirit so completely expressed in Jesus' life and works, is also at work in human thought today. It stills tempests of the heart and mind. As we follow its constant leadings, we prove Spirit, divine Love, to be the only motivating power, preserving the individual integrity of each of us.
I remember vividly a meeting that had taken on the spirit of an angry mob - though jobs and reputations were at stake more than physical safety. Faculty, administrators, and students at my college were hurling insults. I prayed to see that only Spirit could impel each individual there, and I knew that this divine impulsion would bring spiritual integrity to light. As I prayed, a question took shape in my thought. I asked it, and in a few moments we were back to discussing issues dispassionately. We left with a resolution, and no losses.
We have the right to exercise the integrity of our spiritual nature. God gives us that right and undergirds it. Certain of our own spiritual integrity, we can help others to find theirs as well and be uninfluenced by fear or anger. Integrity is what's contagious. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let integrity and uprightness preserve me. Psalms 25:21