I had no idea I was guilty of bigotry until after my college days. Even then, when a friend pointed out my prejudice against a particular group of people, I denied it. But the practice of reckoning honestly with myself, which I had been taught in childhood, eventually brought me face-to-face with the mistake in my thought. I found I needed to recognize more clearly the breadth and depth of God's creation, man.
No adult in my childhood had said, ''You mustn't associate with this religious-cultural group - they're no good.'' But evidently small, unremembered incidents had combined with subtle and probably unconscious attitudes to encourage my bias.
My awakening came in little pieces - an awkward moment here, a bit of uneasiness there. Overall, it was embarrassing. But at the same time, it brought the healing closer.
What finally healed me was a deeper insight into what the term ''man'' really means. The Apostle Peter's experience, related in Acts, n1 helped me in this direction. ''What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common,'' Peter was told by an angel in a vision. And this insight enabled him to say to the centurion, Cornelius, ''Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.'' And Peter proved by his works that his heart had truly changed.
n1 See Acts 10.
God does not classify man by race, culture, gender, social class, or religious beliefs. God knows man only as His spiritual offspring, harmoniously expressing His nature. Over and over in her writings Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes the spiritual nature of man as the image of God, who is the creator of all. For example, in answer to the question ''What is man?'' she says in part, ''Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique.'' n2
n2 See Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 475.
Can we compare and weigh and rate one individual created by God as idea against another created likewise as spiritual idea? No. The true origin of all is not in races or cultures or nations; it is in God, the Father-Mother of the whole family of man. With an understanding of God as the divine Parent and man as the divine idea of this Parent, we have the basis for destroying cultural, religious, or racial intolerance.
My healing did not stop there. I began to have more contacts with individuals from the group I had formerly avoided. Sometimes it was a casual occasion, but closer relationships also developed. My change in attitude enabled me to appreciate new friends, to value the uniqueness of their travels and their perceptions.
A small child believes the world revolves around himself. Nothing has much meaning except as it relates to him. But as he grows, his view of the world expands. As you and I grow into a spiritual sense of manhood and womanhood, such self-centeredness disappears and is replaced by a more Christly outlook. We begin to understand that being is truly God-centered. It could be no other way, since God is the one creator. Each one of us, regardless of race or religion, is actually spiritual, reflecting activity, intelligence, and goodness as the image of God, Life.
As one begins to understand the spiritual nature of man, created by God, his or her prejudice toward any other group gradually dissolves. Needless to say, this brings progress toward solving problems among people.
Just think of the implications for world peace. To the degree that we all grow spiritually to know that ''God is no respecter of persons,'' wars, nationalistic rivalries, racial and religious conflicts, will recede. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? Malachi 2:10.