After the Korean jetliner tragedy

Soon after the South Korean jetliner was reported shot down, a friend said, ''At first I was really mad. Now I'm calmer, but I'm still not really sure how to think about it. It seems such a senseless thing.'' Maybe many of us feel that way.

Reasonable people surely agree that wisdom and restraint are needed in regard to this incident. But the widespread shock that many seem to have felt suggests that they are wrestling with some deep questions. Is it possible that one reason this act seems so shocking to so many is that it would have us believe in the frailty and transience of ourselves and our loved ones; that it makes us feel more vulnerable, defenseless?

Many people are undoubtedly looking to God for some gentle assurance of the immortal identity and dignity of man, an assurance that an incident of this sort would rob us of. We do have, deep down in each one of us, a perhaps uncomprehended yet unextinguishable awareness of the dignity and permanence of man's essential identity.

Christ Jesus tenderly assured us through his life example that this awareness , this spiritual sense, is true and right, regardless of what material evidence, certain philosophies, and atheistic beliefs may impose on human thought. Jesus proved that, actually, man's real life is indestructible and eternal. He not only raised others from the dead; he also raised himself, and he ascended. Centuries before, the Psalmist must have glimpsed the truth of man's eternal being when he sang, ''I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.'' n 1

n1 Psalms 17:15.

We need not be confused by popular beliefs about life and death. We can truly trust our inner, God-given spiritual sense, which through any din of fear or shock tells us intuitively that man is God's perfect, precious, and eternal reflection, not subject to matter but entirely apart from it.

Regardless of appearances, man does live forever as God's spiritual image. Death is not the end, nor is it a sudden gate to paradise or hell. Both before and after death we all must continue to allow the Christ, the healing, regenerative power of God, to purify our characters so that we can more and more fulfill man's purpose to glorify the one God who has made all that truly exists; so that we can prove life to be spiritual, enduring, and wholly good, as God has actually made it. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in its textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''Man is deathless, spiritual. He is above sin or frailty. He does not cross the barriers of time into the vast forever of Life, but he coexists with God and the universe.'' n2

n2 Science and Health, p. 226.

Many centuries may pass before any of us understands and proves these statements as fully as Christ Jesus did. But not another moment needs to pass before we glimpse a grain more of their spiritual truth and let it quiet fears raised by the recent jetliner incident.

By any human reckoning, the reported attack was a tragedy. We should feel tender compassion for those who lost their lives and for their families. And we can hope that those who authorized and carried out the attack may begin to realize the necessity of a better way; individually some of them may well be feeling profound remorse and confusion as they become aware of the human dimensions of their act.

This incident, as pitiful as it is, can be made a catalyst to help awaken humble thinkers a bit more to the reality of man's actual selfhood as the likeness of God. In such spiritual awakening there can be found genuine comfort for each of us individually and for the race. DAILY BIBLE VERSE I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38, 39

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