WHEN I was in my teens there was an ominous surge of growing hostility toward ``foreigners in my home country. At that time many people started speaking up courageously against blatant racism. Some took to the street in protest marches.
I joined them! There was a reassuring sense of solidarity in such action. But I found problems in this way of dealing with the issue. Despite the encouragement offered to me by the communal response, my own fear and hatred of the racists that I took to be ``the enemy seemed to become increasingly intense, almost directly in proportion to my involvement.
Things came to a head when I attended an event where an aggressive racist group turned up on the scene. Afterward I came down with a painful physical condition that distinctly seemed to be stemming from the emotions of the experience. As I struggled with the illness, the medicine that was prescribed to cure it resulted in unpleasant side effects. After a long period of rehabilitation, I yearned for some better way to handle these things. I longed to deal with sickness without resorting to drugs, and to d eal with hatred without hating back. That yearning led me to Christ's Christianity, which offers just such solutions.
I was finally, and permanently, healed of the illness without conventional medicine when, through Christian Science, I learned and demonstrated something of God's healing power. And from Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount I learned of a powerful way to deal with hatred without returning the same. I did this by yielding to the innate spiritual capacity that we all have to follow Jesus' divinely inspired counsel ``Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them
which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
Moreover, the gospel record of Jesus' life and example illustrates that the capacity to love those that hate, despitefully use, and persecute us is not merely a grand ideal. It can be put into practice in our own lives. This fact is confirmed in the Bible's inspiring accounts of people successfully overcoming injustice or vindictiveness. The examples of Old Testament luminaries such as Daniel and his compatriots Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego--all of whom survived jealous plots against them--culminate i n the supreme example of Jesus rising from crucifixion to resurrection. These records of how spirituality disarms hatred are laced together by the common thread of individual trust in God's power to save.
Is it as possible now for us to face down courageously and confidently the vindictive words and even the violent acts associated with racism?
In the face of the subtle and blatant racism remaining in the world today, it would be patently untrue to say that the problems can be overcome quickly. But we can each contribute to progress. Like the youngsters that I used to take to the streets with, we can start protesting. But the primary need is for a prayerful protest. The power of such Spirit-based protest is indicated by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, where she refers to Jesus' humble, healing prayers. She writes: ``It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,--of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."
Truth and Love are two names for God that help to make clear His nature. Further, the Bible explains that the only true presence and power is God. Therefore divine Truth and infinite Love are present at all times and govern all that can truly occur. In infinite Love there is no room for hatred. Under the divinely dependable control of universal Truth there is no possible cause for fear. Above all, the spiritual fact of God's place as universal Father-Mother, tenderly governing each of His children, makes
all of us, of all races, belong to God's wholly good and harmonious family. It is on this Biblical basis of acknowledging man's real being as God's reflection that we can protest the vivid pictures of fear and racial hatred that come to our attention. The Bible, in First John, assures us, ``Perfect love casteth out fear." And we find, as we turn to God in prayer, that His perfect love excludes hatred too.
This is what I found happening in my own case. The thought-consuming fear and draining resentment has subsided within me in proportion as I have learned more of God and of the true, spiritual nature of man. Consequently, in practice, I have had some rewarding and enlightening opportunities to express compassion and forgiveness to those whose views I used to dread and loathe. That certainly doesn't mean that I have come to see those views themselves as acceptable! But under God's guidance it is possible t o love an individual genuinely while being strongly opposed to that which would constitute a seeming lack of love within him. I have found that I now hope and pray for the healing of those who suffer from racist thoughts. Seeing racism as a mental blindness to man's innate, God-given ability to love boundlessly has led me to yearn for those entertaining such joyless thinking to find themselves free of it!
In fact, I feel that I have come to find my own freedom through gaining some understanding of the truth that neither such racism, nor the suffering or the fear of racism's effects, is any part of Deity's plan for His children. By the grace of God, in heartfelt prayer, all of us of all races can unite in spiritual protest against every subtle or blatant material evidence to the contrary!