THE cost of crime runs in the millions of dollars, as reported in today's paper, but what we pay in wasted lives is costlier. Many people feel that the pervasiveness of crime, especially among young people, is a result of a general moral decline in society. Several weeks ago on a news program, William Bennett, former Secretary of Education and former ``drug czar,'' spoke of the lack of moral instruction in families and schools today. In an effort to provide an educational tool on values, Mr. Bennett recently compiled a collection of moral literature, which is published under the title The Book of Virtues.
Efforts such as this are certainly helpful. But some people feel it is too late to save those whose behavior seems already formed by violent television programs or by troubled households. Such a view of man would leave us helpless to stop the epidemic of violent crime. But there is a way to prove that we aren't helpless, that we can make a real difference in alleviating crime. Spiritually understanding what man is as God's reflection results in concrete healing--in our own lives, in our neighborhoods, and in the worldwide community.
The Bible makes clear an eternal, spiritual fact: God is the one creator. He created man and the entire universe. God is good and is Spirit, and this divine Spirit created man in its own image. The image of the one, good Spirit can't be a hateful, drug-addicted, violent mortal but must be the spiritual expression of goodness. Christ Jesus understood this, and his entire life illustrated the truth of man's real, spiritual selfhood. Jesus knew that we, too, can fully demonstrate our true identity. This is why he could direct us, as Matthew's Gospel records, ``Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect'' (5:48).
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, both explains the true nature of man and shows us how to follow Jesus' example in demonstrating it. One passage in this book points out: ``Perfection does not animate imperfection. Inasmuch as God is good and the fount of all being, He does not produce moral or physical deformity; therefore such deformity is not real, but is illusion, the mirage of error. Divine Science reveals these grand facts. On their basis Jesus demonstrated Life, never fearing nor obeying error in any form'' (pp. 243-244).
God's man is not morally deformed; he is not morally deficient or blind. The image of divine good expresses the goodness of its source. And because God is the only power, there is no power that can corrupt His expression. Our ability to determine what is right and to act accordingly is a God-given right that no one and nothing can take from us.
Clearly, these spiritual truths need to be made more apparent in our world--in our homes, streets, schools, and businesses. And Christ is at work today, bringing to light the reality of God's creation. Christ may be invisible to the material senses, but the effects of this divine influence are clearly seen in the reformation and healing of those who respond to it. Their lives change. As we reject the false, material view of man and acknowledge man's true nature as the incorruptible image of good, we'll help bring the truth of man's pure goodness to light more and more in our families and communities.
If we want to avoid the high cost of crime, we have a Christian duty before us. The Science of Christianity demonstrates that the reforming power of Christ, Truth, revealed by Jesus, is as potent a reformatory power today as then.