All the employees in my office were quietly working away at their computers, when the now-familiar word went out: Don't open any e-mail that says "I love you"!
We weren't aware that any message with such a friendly title harbored a particularly nasty virus. Open it, and ... it wrought havoc. Not only that, open it, and ... it sent itself to everyone on your mailing list - presumably to those whom you actually did love. And, since the recipients recognized your name when they saw it, they had no reason not to open it. They trusted you. But open it, and ....
I thought of the story of the Trojan horse, which the classic Greek writer Homer immortalizes in "The Iliad," his epic poem. Intrigued by a large, beautiful statue that has been left outside the walls of the besieged city, the inhabitants of Troy bring the statue inside. But, open it, and ... the enemy jumps out.
Is this really what love and beauty - and also trust - are all about? For a while, it felt as if that e-mail virus was punishing all of us who were gullible enough to believe in an expression of goodness - in what makes events in our daily lives, and in the workplace, worth living.
As I sat at my desk, I began to pray. I asked God, whom I knew to be both good and omniscient, to guide my thought and give me ideas. The first thing I thought about was that for me, the previous day had actually been entirely about friendship. First, I'd sent an e-mail of gratitude to a friend for meeting with me several months ago when I was sad. He'd sent a message right back, expressing gratitude for our friendship and letting me know that he'd needed that little talk as well. Also, I'd worked on two projects during the day that revolved around the theme of friendship. And finally, I'd had the privilege of helping a friend who was staying home from his office because he didn't feel well. After making my friend some soup, I'd read testimonies of spiritual healing to him from some Christian Science magazines. By the end of the day, he'd improved substantially.
So, I knew that I had seen to some degree how to love my friends. I knew that when I said "I love you," I meant it! But now, as I continued to pray, I knew I had to include as one of my friends the hacker who was responsible for this destructive Love Bug virus.
I've long studied the teachings of Jesus, who was one of the most powerful men who has ever lived on earth - and also one of the meekest. Jesus, who was severely hated for reasons we've since come to know were largely political, was betrayed in the end by both his enemies and his "friends." Yet he could say this: "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.... For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them... But love ye your enemies ... and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (see Luke, Chap. 6).
Mary Baker Eddy, who started this newspaper, was often herself the victim of other people's hate or mischief. Yet she insisted it was important to love her enemies. The topic was important enough to her that she wrote an essay titled "Love Your Enemies." One passage reads: "What is it that harms you? Can height, or depth, or any other creature separate you from the Love that is omnipresent good, - that blesses infinitely one and all?" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 8).
I knew the answer to that question had to be a resounding "No!" After a while, I observed that the work I was doing had not been affected by the computer virus, and I was very grateful for that. But I was more grateful to realize that I genuinely felt only goodwill toward the hacker. Hatred, once we accept its infection, is really the biggest Trojan horse of all. And I was comforted by the fact that God, who is merciful to all, was sending reassuring messages - angels, really - to everyone involved, including the hacker.
God's angels bring only the message of the redemptive mercy of divine Love. Open it, and ... you're healed of hate.
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