The gift that parents give

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

In some ways, it's startling that the choice of a Jewish vice-presidential candidate should create headlines around the world. Within hours of the announcement, the Internet was filled with hateful expressions of bigotry, even while many people were being outspokenly grateful that another prejudicial barrier had come down.

This points out the ongoing need for healing in human relations. There's nothing natural about bigotry. It's a learned evil. And today, no matter how illegal it may be, people who know better frequently practice racial discrimination.

Just last year, someone bragged to me that no Jews had ever been allowed to join his country club. He wasn't pleased when I said that was a cause for shame rather than pride. It's progressive for these matters to be dragged out of the dark corners where they sometimes hide.

It's good to expose evil. And to pray to defuse the anger and turmoil that sometimes come with it. When I grew up, there was a great deal of obvious prejudice among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews in our town. It was taught in a lot of homes and encouraged in places of worship. So it was the kind of thing you could easily pick up at school and among your friends.

Fortunately for me, my parents wouldn't tolerate it. I can still remember my mother scolding me when I said anything that contained the seeds of prejudice. She explained that we all worshiped God in our own way. She taught me that I should be grateful for everyone who believed in God and felt that God was an important part of his or her life. I still recall her explaining that there wasn't a Catholic God and a Jewish God and a Protestant God. There was just God, a God who loved all His children equally. She pointed out the Bible verse "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10)

Because I was taught that there is just one universal, ever-present God, I found it natural to believe that all spiritual seekers would discover important truths about who God is and how He/She created us. I was instructed to value whatever I saw in my friends' beliefs that coincided with what I believed. Sure, there were great differences. But I was taught to pay more attention to what we held in common. To "love my neighbor" rather than criticize or demean him or her.

Maybe that's why I had a broader spectrum of friends than many other kids did, and grew up freer from prejudice. I've often seen that this is one of the great gifts my parents gave me. And it illustrates the primary role that parents play in eliminating prejudice and bigotry.

I was taught to take to heart this paragraph from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy: " 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' (Exodus xx. 3.) The First Commandment is my favorite text.... One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, - whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed" (pg. 340).

Since then, I've appreciated the fact that the Apostle Paul, too, had a clear vision of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. In a famous speech in Athens, he declared, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands." He continued by saying that God "made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:24, 26).

Theological differences will remain. But most of the world's holy writings teach the importance of genuine love between us all. If we actually live by this teaching, the world will be a far better place.

Owe no man

any thing,

but to love

one another.

Romans 13:8

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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