THE word was traveling fast! There was going to be a fight after school behind the gym. All day there was kind of a strange stir in the hallways between classes.
After school, I went out to wait for my bus. Then I saw fists fly. A crowd formed, and I ran over with everyone else to see who was fighting. It was two ninth-grade boys. I knew them both. Sure, both were pretty tough, at least that's the image they had. But as I watched, I didn't see toughness or strength. What I saw was fear. Why didn't someone do something to stop this? Why didn't I do something?
But I didn't know what to do. Pretty soon the principal and a couple of teachers showed up and broke things up. The crowd dispersed. I ran to catch my bus. I felt uncomfortable about what I had seen, and the situation prompted me to think more deeply about how fear leads to angry exchanges and violence.
A first step in healing any inharmonious situation is to destroy fear. Why fear? Because fear is antagonistic to a clear understanding of God and His law of good. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, tells readers, ''Casting out evil and fear enables truth to outweigh error'' (p. 392).
The fact is, evil is not a power. Man is inseparable from God, who is the one divine Mind, Spirit. God, good, is supreme, and He is Love, so His love masters hate. As His children, His spiritual offspring, we are endowed by Him with all good qualities, such as joy, peace, intelligence, and dominion. And it is natural for us to express these qualities and see them in others.
Jealousy, pride, and territorialism are smoke screens for fear. We don't have to fall for them. Instead we can see that they are lies, and we can dig down to get at the spiritual truth that destroys the fear. For instance, what if it seems someone is out to get us, or has wronged us in some way? Right there, where it seems some evil is operating in an effort to destroy our happiness, we can realize that God, good, is present. He is everywhere, and His purpose for each of us is good.
Evil is no part of God's spiritual likeness, man. That means it's no part of us or of anyone else. The enemy, then, is not a person or a group of people, but the suggestion that evil itself has power and influence. It doesn't. Good is, in fact, supreme over evil. This is the truth of the matter, the spiritual reality of things. Goodness and peace are natural and the only way to resolve any situation. If a horseman is thrown from his horse because the horse has been frightened by a snake, beating the horse won't fix things! The horseman needs to get rid of the snake, the source of the problem. It's the same with fear-we need to destroy it, instead of acting aggressively toward people.
In the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew's Gospel, Christ Jesus told his followers, ''First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift'' (5:24). The Master taught the law of Love.
The lesson I learned about fear that day helped me when my mom and dad were getting a divorce. There were angry moments, and sometimes they said hurtful things. But I remembered how fear had been such a big part of the fight at school. My mom and dad were probably both feeling afraid and threatened. So I prayed.
I affirmed man's spiritual perfection, complete, loving, and truthful to the spiritual facts. And I strove to recognize God's spiritual likeness in them both. Pretty soon the fighting stopped. They were able to be calm when they saw each other, whether they were by themselves or with me and my sisters.
We can always do something-we can always listen to and obey God. We can hold fast to what we know is true of God and His creation right then and there-that man is loving and innocent. Praying this way, we overcome the aggression that stems from fear, and we find freedom and dominion.