WHAT is the center of our life? If we center ourselves on a material basis, such as belonging to a certain race or a particular culture, we tend to see ourselves and others from an outlook which is actually quite limited. Such a view fosters the kinds of distinctions that spark confrontations between individuals and war between nations and peoples.
Peace conferences, treaties, and legislation are positive and often necessary steps to alleviate conflict. The underlying problem still remains, however: the belief that there are basic, unalterable differences between peoples that make it impossible for them to coexist peaceably. Lately, this has caused severe strains in the Far East and Europe.
But wait. This isn't the way creation was meant to be. According to the Bible, man is spiritual, created in the image and likeness of God. Christ Jesus explains this identity as that of Father and son--children in the likeness of their divine Parent. Thus, each and every man, woman, and child is united by a common ancestry and heritage as the offspring of one and the same God, Spirit. Rightly viewed, race and culture point to the variety and uniqueness of our spiritual individuality.
``We cannot fathom the nature and quality of God's creation by diving into the shallows of mortal belief," writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. ``We must reverse our feeble flutterings--our efforts to find life and truth in matter--and rise above the testimony of the material senses, above the mortal to the immortal idea of God. These clearer, higher views inspire the Godlike man to reach the absolute centre an d circumference of his being."
On this spiritual basis, we can reject self-centered and limited viewpoints about ourselves or others, and refuse to consider anyone, including ourselves, as better or worse than another and divided from that person as a result. This is possible, whether we seem to belong to a group that is prevailing at the moment, a group that is struggling for its rights, or a presumably uninvolved group watching from the sidelines. We can insist on recognizing everyone as a member of the only group that counts--God's
family. And this knowledge does have a practical effect in our lives.
Much of my life I have lived where I was in the minority racially, culturally, or religiously. And I have often been the target of prejudice based on one or another human group to which I am considered to belong. But as I refuse to accept the view that man's identity is based on things like color or religion and continue to view my fellow students, workers, and neighbors as God's children, in most cases the initial differences cease to be an issue in my relations with others. I do not claim that the huma n differences are completely gone, but the improvement is so great as to prove its source to be the truth of man's spiritual nature. And each time we demonstrate this individually, even in the smallest ways, it helps the collective problem.
As individuals stop seeing themselves as mortal members of a particular race, culture, religious denomination and begin to identify themselves as members of God's family, animosities bolstered by perceived differences will begin to disappear. We are all members of God's family, and each individual's true, spiritual identity is based on this sonship of God, not on skin color, religious beliefs, or nationality.
As Godlike men and women, we can reject notions of limiting ego-centrism by basing our lives on God, our common creator. And we can begin to experience the harmony and unity that God intended for His family.