Do no harm
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
My husband and I had expected to be awed by the splendor of the desert, mountains, and prairies as we drove across the United States. What we hadn't expected was to find the landscape marred by something far worse than billboards.
Mile after mile along the highways, as if we were passing through a war zone, there were the bodies of animals that had been struck by cars. The magnitude of the slaughter stunned us. We installed a high-frequency "deer whistle" on the car and drove with care. We also sought peace of mind.
A verse of a familiar psalm that used to trouble me has become deeply meaningful in thinking about any situation involving great harm to life, be it animal or human: "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee" (Ps. 91:7). At first glance, that's a hard message to embrace; how much comfort is there in being safe if thousands of others have fallen? But there's a deeper truth here.
This psalm as a whole lifts us to a higher view of reality - of where we live and of what we are. God is our refuge, our safe dwelling, where no disasters happen. To live in God is to live in eternal Mind. This Mind is so infinitely aware, and so infinitely loving, that the true identity of every mouse, fox, and human being is tenderly preserved always. In God's kingdom, identities aren't fragile matter, but are ideas, harmless and unharmable. Reality is a spiritual state of being, where death and sorrow are unknown.
Then how are we to think and what are we to do about the thousands fallen before our eyes? The world's great spiritual seers have grappled with these questions. Ultimately, they have shown us how to rise to the spiritual realm in our prayer life, and from that stronghold of peace, to express compassion and help right the wrongs of the human scene. As we commit to this path, sorrow and despair won't overwhelm us. They cannot "come nigh thee."
Jesus said that his life-purpose was to bear witness to the truth. One way he did this was to show that death isn't the truth. His resurrection proved that his identity wasn't harmed by what appeared to be death.
We can see the spiritual truth of any situation by first knowing with all our heart that nothing God creates can be hurt - or do harm. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, provides an in-depth discussion of the spiritual basis of this truth. For instance, in a chapter titled "Science of Being," we find this: "All things beautiful and harmless are ideas of Mind. Mind creates and multiplies them, and the product must be mental" (pg. 280).
I have witnessed the guiding presence of this Mind on the highway. One morning, I was driving in the fast lane, when a mother goose and a trail of goslings started across the road just in front of me. Declaring aloud that God was in control, I moved to the right and avoided them. I held my breath and looked in the rear-view mirror. To my wonder, the stream of traffic behind me had been able to slow down, and the birds were making their way safely.
God's spiritual creation - and that includes all of us - can neither do harm nor be harmed. Being a persistent witness to this truth brings more evidence of it to light. Ideas emerge on how to conduct business and do scientific research without damaging the earth or its inhabitants. Individuals wake up to ways they can help. For some people, this might mean serving a cause or organization devoted to humanity's progress. For others, it might mean being more ethically aware in their choice of the products they buy or of the foods they eat.
Without judging another's way, we can thank God for revealing to each of us the means to help and heal the world.
And the cow and the bear
shall feed; their young ones
shall lie down together: and
the lion shall eat straw like the
ox.... They shall not hurt nor
destroy in all my holy mountain:
for the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the Lord, as
the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:7, 9
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society