Is there a way to gentle a world that so often appears torn with violence?
Yes. Whether it's a mugging on the streets of our own neighborhood or a ruthless purge in some distant country, we do not have to stand by, helpless or frightened. We can take up spiritual arms.
Many researchers have probed the roots of violence. An interesting observation, which points to one aspect of the problem, has been made by Rollo May: ''It is the lack of (a) sense of significance, and the struggle for it, that underlies much violence.''n1
n1 Rollo May, Power and Innocence (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1976), p. 37.
Men and women develop a sense of personal significance in a variety of ways -- through a job, raising a family, pursuing a hobby. But through an inspired, spiritual perception of the Bible's message we can learn an even more satisfying sense of man's significance. This sense enriches and transcends our human pursuits, and when prayerfully recognized as the universal truth of man, it can begin to replace violence with harmony.
This deeper sense of significance is the understanding of man's true, royal nature as the image of God -- a significance so profound that it moved the Psalmist to query, ''What is man, that thou art mindful of him?. . . thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.''n2
n2 Psalms 8:4, 5.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, had no doubts about the importance of man's role in the order of being. In Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm , the Christian Science textbook, she writes, ''God, without the image and likeness of Himself, would be a nonentity, or Mind unexpressed.''n3
n3 Science and Healthm , p. 303.
How significant this makes man! What is infinite cause without effect, or Mind without idea? Of course, man is never God or a being apart from God; to assert that he is either of these would be both presumptuous and incorrect. Man is, however, the vital expression of God's nature, the child of the one Father-Mother. As such, he does not have to struggle for recognition or place. His individual purpose is eternally secure and divinely mandated.
This understanding is as practical today as it was nearly two thousand years ago when Jesus taught and healed the multitudes, bringing deeper significance to the lives of sufferer and sinner alike.
Mrs. Eddy says of the Master, ''The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow, -- thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying.''n4
n4 Ibid., p. 259.
When we understand man's true nature as expressing God, we see that he is exempt from the type of frustrated, violent, mortal selfhood pictured in the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. According to the story, Cain and Abel each made an offering to the Lord. Although Abel's offering was greeted with ''respect,'' Cain's was not. As a result, Cain was ''very wroth'' and ''rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.''n5
n5 See Genesis 4:1-8.
But man is not really a mortal Cain, nor is God a capricious deity who bestows favor on one and not another. Man is the beloved spiritual likeness of God. This truth, understandingly applied to local and world affairs, does, by degrees, bring deeper meaning and satisfaction to individual lives. What is more , it can break the chain of violence by replacing the belief in mortal insignificance with the reality of man as God created him -- divinely significant and perpetually at peace BIBLE VERSE Violence shall no more heard in thy land. Isaiah 60:18.m