`I FEEL like Charlie Brown!'' my son said one day recently as he stepped off the school bus. ``That's OK,'' I replied lightly, ``we all probably feel like Charlie Brown some days. But it's better than feeling like Lucy!''
We laughed, and he soon forgot about whatever incident at school made him feel unhappy. But I continued to think about Charlie Brown, the character from the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz. Charlie Brown seems forever on the short end of things, and Lucy is the girl who lords it over him.
If we were to accept life as a constant struggle between the weak and the strong, we would always have Charlie Browns and Lucys. The dominated and the domineering -- isn't this too often the case these days at home or in school, at the workplace or even among governments? But the fact is, neither the Charlie Brown type nor the Lucy type represents the man created and governed by God. We see something of this man described in these words of the Psalmist: ``Thou...hast crowned him with glory and honour.Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.''1
This dominion is powerfully illustrated in the Biblical story of Daniel.2 There were those in the kingdom who were jealous of Daniel's position in the government. They persuaded the king to approve a flimsy law that would condemn to a den of lions any man who worshiped God rather than the king. So it looked as if the domineering lions were pitted against Daniel, a faithful but weak (when compared to lions!) human.
But the outcome disproved a superficial assessment of the situation. In Daniel's own words, ``My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me.''
The Bible's description of God's finding innocency in Daniel points to a spiritual truth -- to the reality of man's God-given innocence and perfection as the spiritual image of his creator. Mortals may at times seem far from innocent, but this isn't who we really are. A sinful mortal isn't our true selfhood. Because God is Spirit, all that He creates is spiritual and good, including man, who is never subject to evil.
With all the worldly power-seeking these days, spiritual individuality may seem far from the fact. But can the act of dominating another really be called an expression of individuality? Isn't it instead just an adopting of a lower pattern of behavior that is more animalistic than anything else?
There are strong indications of spiritual individuality in ourselves and others. We see evidence of it in meekness, when one cheerfully surrenders personal plans for the good of others; or unselfishness, which persists even though it goes largely unappreciated; or a marked nobility in what someone is doing with his or her life. Such individuality never dominates.
But can it be dominated? Christian Science is especially helpful here. It explains that to really understand our spiritual individuality we need to look to the nature of God, the source of all true identity. Because God is all-powerful divine Love, the individuality He creates is as strong and definite as it is loving and pure. It cannot be dominated but is governed by God alone.
It may appear at times that such a spiritual concept of man is too out-of-touch with daily experience to be of any use. But just the opposite is true -- the spiritual sense of man is concrete, and it can make all the difference. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The individuality of man is no less tangible because it is spiritual and because his life is not at the mercy of matter. The understanding of his spiritual individuality makes man more real, more formidablein truth, and enables him to conquer sin, disease, and death.''3
Understanding this, at least to some extent, we can keep good 'ole Charlie Brown and Lucy where they belong -- in that delightful comic strip.
1Psalms 8:5, 6. 2See Daniel, chapter 6. 3Science and Health, p. 317. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 13:6