RACISM is characterized by intolerance of other nations, tribes, or ethnic groups that differ in color or customs. Such prejudice leads to irritation, hatred, misery-producing conflict, and ghastly wars. It would appear that there is no solution to this prejudice and intolerance between the various races and ethnic groups. But this is not so.
Certainly it is vital for us to grow in our understanding of other groups by studying their customs and languages. But this by itself, though helpful, is not enough to bring permanent solutions. As a young person embarking on a career in Zimbabwe many years ago, I was advised by a senior executive to learn to speak and write one of the principal vernaculars of the country. I appreciated having a practical way to generate good human relationships at a local level. But there is an even better way to overcome racial and ethnic prejudice, as I discovered when later I became a student of Christian Science. This spiritual solution unites us all as children of one Father, God.
The ultimate need is to promote universal harmony. It can take years of study to learn even one new language or to understand the customs of another's culture. As one reflects in daily life, however, the beautiful attitudes of our creator--God, divine Love--others will also experience the harmonizing influence of our God-inspired actions. Christlike actions speak louder than words. Love in action bridges ethnic divisions.
Christ Jesus' example shows us that a universal spiritual brotherhood does truly exist. We all have one heavenly Parent, that is God. And we all have the same spiritual origin. What mortality sees as divisions of race and ethnicity can't actually separate us from one another when we see that we are all children of one Father, God. First John joyfully announces: ''Beloved, now are we the sons of God'' (3:2). All of us, from a spiritual perspective, are united by our oneness with God.
In the Bible's spiritual account of creation, God, Spirit, made man in His own image and likeness. This spiritual likeness is common to all of us--this is what we need to understand and recognize in order to establish that man's individuality as God's expression does not include elements of prejudice or discrimination. God sees only His own likeness--spiritual, pure, and perfect. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, points out in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''Man is the expression of God's being'' (p. 470).
God knows nothing of any inaccurate, human conceptions of differences or discrepancies among us. He loves all of His children equally, making no distinctions based on racial or ethnic differences. Colossians urges us to put off the ''old man''--mortal mind and its false concept of separations between God and man, and between one man and another--and to put on the ''new man,'' or spiritual identity. As we do this we perceive man in God's image, ''Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all'' (3:11). Spiritual understanding, or the revelation of man's real identity, dissolves feelings of both superiority and inferiority, and reveals the divine likeness and the genuine spiritual relationship enjoyed by all people as children of God.
What I learned from my study of Christian Science uplifted my thoughts and my conduct as a public relations officer. This, in turn, fostered good relations with, and among, local and international inquisitorial delegations and observers with whom I worked during the peaceful 1989 elections in Namibia. Reflecting divine Mind's omniscience and Love's beautiful attitudes gives each of us a sufficient and effective way to communicate. The language and usages of divine Love, God, which we reflect to God's glory, are the surest way to embrace as equals our worldwide household of brethren, without prejudice.