What can readers of the Monitorm do to help control crime? Some may already be working in law enforcement or serving on community commissions or committees. But what else might one do?
One step is to love the criminal more -- though not the crime. The right kind of compassion, Christly compassion, is a powerful healing force. It can reach the criminal's deepest thought when nothing less can, and help him or her. Christ Jesus beautifully proved this when "a woman in the city, which was a sinner" felt so much love from him, despite her history, that she could wash his feet in tears. n1
n1 See Luke 7:36-50.
Unfortunately, smoldering frustration, fear, and even rage have taken over much of public thought on the subject of criminals. These feelings and the actions that result from them can be like striking matches and then sloshing gasoline on the fire. They do nothing to reduce crime, and they may even increase it, because they don't heal the basic causes of crime -- the fear, frustration, selfwill, pride.
Christly compassion does not coddle criminals, though use of that insipid substitute, coddling, may be one reason so many people for suspicious of the word "compassion" when it is applied to criminals. There is a vast difference between Christly love and the do-gooder sentimentality that is sucker bait for any clever criminal.
Healing love sees the problem starkly. But it also has the meek holiness that looks beyong the problem to see the real, spiritual man who actually exists right where the most steely criminal seems to be. The one who has this love is something like the art expert who can spot a masterwork under layers of uninspired oil. But the Christian sees more with his heart than he could ever see with his eyes -- or even with X-rays. His possibly slight, but genuine, grasp of God as all good and man as God's highest idea, to some degree awakens his spiritual senses. He is able to discern dignity and purity where others may see only a contemptible mortal. When this love is pure enough, it can penetrate the self-justification many criminals seem to harbor in some from, touch their hearts, and begin precisely then the process of regenera- tion that has to take place sooner of later. God never gives up on a single one of His children, for God is both Father and Mother.
The Dicoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, once had an experience that illustrates these points. She writes, "I visited in his cell the assassin of President Garfield, and found him in the mental state called moral idiocy. He had no sense of his crime; but regarded his act as one of simple justice, and himself as the victim. My few words touched him; he sank back in his chair, limp and pale; his flippancy had fled. The jailer thanked me , and said, 'Other visitors have brought to him bouquets, but you have brought what will do him good." n2
n2 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. 112.
Many Monitorm readers may have no contact with criminals in cells or out. They may live in so-called "safe suburbs" or even in guarded compounds. But don't we all have a responsibility of simple brotherly love, to be conscious of the crime problem and willing to help heal it? Through the tender compassion exemplified by Christ Jesus, crime can be controlled. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. . . . Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:21, 22, 44