Are we Assam?

Thinking people agree that war is horrible. But the recent slaughter of innocent people, including women and children, in Assam, India, must strike many as unspeakably barbaric. And similar acts occur in other parts of the world.

What is to be done? Are we really animalistic beings?

The problem is as old as the race, and we would be unrealistic to dream that it will suddenly be resolved for the whole race. But a solution does exist. It is for all of us to pray deeply, conscientiously, scientifically - pray with an understanding of God's infinite power and of His perfect government of man, under which evil has neither cause nor existence.

Animal instincts in men are not new, but neither are they natural, inevitable , or incurable. For example, the Bible tells of a self-righteously enraged David being pacified by the wise and courageous Abigail, n1 and - in the New Testament - of the calming and converting of Saul, who was rampaging through the early Church, persecuting Christians. n2

n1 See I Samuel 25:2-35.

n2 See Acts 8:3 and Acts 9:1-18.

Underlying such base thoughts as fear, envy, hatred, is the universal conviction that man is a mortal, born into matter and subject to sin. This may seem patently true. But to heal hatred and the killing it incites, this basic belief must be changed, and it can be changed, by degrees, through humble prayer.

Such prayer must be not only heartfelt but also deeply scientific. An earnest petition to God to make us better people may be a helpful starting point. Yet we need the even deeper prayer that wells up out of at least some understanding of the most basic spiritual facts of God and man.

We can learn from the Bible that God is infinite good and that man is His perfect, spiritual likeness. Because God is good and the one creative power, He causes man to express only divine qualities, such as goodness and love. There is no hatred or fear in God that can be expressed in man, nor any belief in mortality. God knows the perfection of what He creates, and causes man to know himself and all others this way. ''Beloved, now are we the sons of God,'' n3 the Bible tells us.

n3 I John 3:2.

Clearly, these truths transcend what appears to our physical senses. They reach far beyond human views and man-made opinions. But as we discern them, come to accept and live them, we who seem so frail and unstable in character can be made Godlike.

In prayer we can hold to the spiritual truth of God and man, and even insist upon it. As we do, the sins of mortality will progressively give way to man's higher nature, just as night yields to clear dawn. Through God's grace, we all can, in the words of the reformed Saul who was renamed Paul, ''put off the old man with his deeds'' and ''put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.'' n4

n4 Colossians 3:9,10.

Steady employment, travel and education, constructive recreation, and other activities may expand and elevate human thought, and so help relieve the economic, racial, or other pressures that would cause us to act ugly. But only God, through the power of His eternal, healing Christ, can purify human consciousness of false mortal beliefs and actually transform human character.

Part of the preciousness of this change is that as it purifies one individual it also blesses the world. When one person with a torch holds it high enough, he can shed light on an entire village.

The light that heals is an uplifted, pure spiritual awareness of God as all good and of man as His perfect likeness who includes no evil. Each of us can be lifted up by and to this ideal.

So, if the animalistic elements represented by the events in Assam seem to be us, or anybody, in reality they are not. Man's true and only selfhood is the expression of the one Mind, God, reflecting His constant love for all creation. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Man is the offspring, not of the lowest, but of the highest qualities of Mind.'' n5 To hold to this truth is prayer that proves this truth and blesses the race with increasing harmony.

n5 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 265.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE I delight in the law of God after the inward man. Romans 7:22

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