RACIAL bigotry is an ugly blight on civilization. Sadly, it judges people by the color of their skin rather than by the quality of their character. The struggle against racial repression has gone on for centuries in societies throughout the world. Many would agree that the work two decades ago of Martin Luther King, Jr., brought progress in the United States. But most would agree that much more progress is needed.
How can the average citizen who feels compassion for all races forward racial harmony? Many are fervently praying. Prayers of petition for God's help soften our hearts to love even more. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, petitions in her poem entitled ``Love,'' ``Thou to whose power our hope we give,/Free us from human strife.''1
We all can meekly ask God to erase the arrogance, ignorance, and so forth that smolder in those on one side of this conflict, and the resentment and frustration that inflame those on the other side. We may even need to ask Him to forgive our own sense of self-righteous anger toward those who appear to be bigots.
In reality, God assigns no evil or suffering to anyone, because the man of His creating is not a victimized or victimizing mortal but His spiritual likeness. This truth must inevitably, progressively, come to light, and the healing of racial conflict is an important step in the process. Prayers of petition remove human will and judgment from our hearts until we release the problem to God's judgment. History's greatest healer of human woe was Christ Jesus. Before his crucifixion, which was the most agonizing hour of hate in human history, he said, ``Not my will, but thine, be done.''2
Beyond prayers of petition are prayers of spiritual understanding. They require us to yield to God's will. They elevate faith above wavering trust to a perception of the true and unchanging nature of God and man.
The Bible reveals that God is All and that He is good. ``Beside me there is no God,''3 we read in Isaiah. The Psalmist wrote, ``Good and upright is the Lord.''4 And Jesus declared, ``There is none good but one, that is, God.''5 Many know that man is described in the Scriptures as the image of God.6
The prayer of spiritual understanding is anchored in a realization of this truth of God and man, which seems so contradictory to a carnal, material sense of life that judges only by surface appearances. But this truth can be discerned through the innate spiritual sense we all have. One way we awake to and cultivate spiritual sense is through childlike humility. Purity is also vital, and prayer.
Spiritual sense, however hushed in us at present, confirms the spiritual reality of perfect God and perfect man. It mutes the ugly lie that we are just mortals, captives to heredity, victims of circumstance, slaves to fear. Spiritual sense confirms the Biblical truth that man is the noblest creation of God, expressing all His good. It reveals our real roots to be in God Himself, in infinite Love. It lifts our perception to glimpse divine reality, transcending the false sense of man as either a racist or a victim. It awakens us to see man for who he really is--the child of God. This brings us a sense of peace about the whole snarled issue of racial conflict and can't help forwarding progress for all on that subject. What we understand of spiritual truth must be reflected in improvement on the human scene, because it is truth.
Through his broad wisdom and non-condemning love Jesus healed strife. When an adulterous woman was brought to him, he turned away a blind, animal clamor for her punishment and defused an effort to condemn him as well, bringing self-knowledge to both sides.7 His teaching ``Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect''8 points to his sublime understanding of perfect God and perfect man as the spiritual reality to be demonstrated in the face of suffering or conflict.
Might our highest commemoration of those who have struggled long for civil rights be to struggle with our own mortal sense of man, beginning with ourselves? As we come to see ourselves to be, in truth, God's perfect children, aren't we more likely to think of others that way? Just as gentle affection spreads unspoken through an entire household, so our holy conviction of man as the child of God can help bring healing peace to a world convulsed by racial unrest and confused over how to end it.
1Poems, p. 6. 2Luke 22:42. 3Isaiah 44:6. 4Psalms 25:8. 5Matthew 19:17. 6See Genesis 1:27. 7See John 8:1-11. 8Matthew 5:48. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Romans 8:16