IN troubled spots around the globe, assassination is a lurking threat to many in public life. The moral outrage we feel over such threats and the comfort and love with which we may long to reach out to victims' families may also be coupled with despair over whether such acts can be curbed and justice restored. But surely our outrage stems from an innate conviction of the value and dignity of man and of humanity's right to just government. And doesn't this conviction demand that we not yield to despair? The Bible both encourages and commands, ``Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.''1
Although an enemy may wield a gun or other material device, isn't the primary weapon hatred, perhaps, or desire for power? To expunge the destructive motive and instill good would, in a profound sense, disarm the assassin.
Transformation of character requires more than human persuasion, however. What's needed is the healing, regenerating activity of the Christ, of the divine influence in human consciousness, ``which taketh away the sin of the world.''2
The ever-present Christ, acknowledged and deeply felt in prayer, serves to awaken in us the desire and capacity to live more purely. Responding to these right desires in our own lives, we are bearing witness, in a degree, to the reality of man's nature as the wholly good likeness of God, Spirit, as man is described in the first chapter of the Bible.
Human conditions often argue, however, that evil is stubbornly real, that it is stronger than good and is found in people and in certain situations and environments. But Jesus, who lived fully the healing Christ, gave this radical view of evil. He said of the devil, or evil, ``There is no truth in him.... he is a liar, and the father of it.''3
We can begin to glimpse something of the fraudulence of evil right where we are. A fundamental starting point is to reject the notion that man is beyond redemption, since man's genuine selfhood is entirely good.
Does this mean excusing or ignoring evil? Absolutely not. Rather, it helps bring to light the possibility of healing. Defending the purity of our concept of man by identifying evil as a horrible lie helps us escape the fruitless cycle of reacting with anger or fear to large or small misdeeds -- whether faraway or close at hand -- and to respond instead with the prayer of heartfelt love for man's true, spiritual identity. This, in turn, helps open the way to reformation.
Though the circumstances are much different from those we've been discussing, the experience of a teacher in a men's prison shows something of the power of divine Love to disarm evil intent.
One day the teacher, who had been going to the prison without incident for several years, was violently threatened by inmates. He knew that violence had occurred in the prison, and he felt the guards would be unable to protect him. He was concerned for his safety.
He was helped by this statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: ``Human hate has no legitimate mandate and no kingdom. Love is enthroned.''4 He prayed fervently to understand better that evil, whatever its form, has no irreversible authority, since, in truth, God is supreme. He saw more clearly that he and the inmates were immediately accountable to divine Love's government and that under that government neither he nor they could be subordinate to evil influences.
He did not feel it was unwise to return at his appointed time. Also, as a result of his prayer, he saw a practical step he could take to address inmates' concerns.
He found that their attitude had changed completely. For the remainder of the program, he and the inmates worked well together.
In a very fundamental way our safety derives from the ever-presence of all-powerful divine Love, which is man's true environment. But the threats and uncertainty that seem so pervasive show that we must diligently realize the omnipresence of Love and adhere to the standard of brotherhood in even the smallest details of our lives if we would truly help bring greater peace and security into view.
Justice is not, in reality, fragile. It is an attri-bute of almighty God, divine Principle, Love, and man cannot wrest from God the authority of law.
Science and Health states: ``God creates and governs the universe, including man. The universe is filled with spiritual ideas, which He evolves, and they are obedient to the Mind that makes them.'' And it continues further on, ``Mortals are not like immortals, created in God's own image; but infinite Spirit being all, mortal consciousness will at last yield to the scientific fact and disappear, and the real sense of being, perfect and forever intact, will appear.''5
The Christ, enlightening thought with the truth of being through the action of prayer, is powerful to disarm the assassin.
1Romans 12:21. 2John 1:29. 3John 8:44. 4Science and Health, p. 454. 5Ibid., p. 295. BIBLE VERSE The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. Isaiah 33:22