'THIS is a slaughter of the innocents" is how Helen Liddell, a member of the British Parliament, referred to the massacre of at least sixteen small children and their teacher by a gunman in Dunblane, Scotland, three weeks ago.
Each of us can benefit from praying for the citizens of Dunblane. Prayer requires us to think of ourselves and others in spiritual terms. In prayer we remember that God is a present help, no matter where we are. And thinking of our Scottish neighbors will aid in helping them to find peace.
While it is not possible to bring back those people who were lost, it is possible, through prayer, to contribute toward the alleviation of suffering. This is taking the road that Christ Jesus marked out for his followers. It is also an opportunity to remember that innocence and purity are spiritual qualities that cannot be lost, because they emanate from God. Jesus made this point when he told his followers, according to St. Matthew, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (18:3).
When tragedy strikes, "the kingdom of heaven" might seem like an abstract concept. Yet the Bible's teachings make clear that God's children are spiritual right now. In the final analysis, the life of Jesus proved that innocence and goodness outweigh evil. From the compassion he expressed toward the sick and the sinning, to his willingness to forgive those who crucified him, he saw genuine, spiritual innocence as a quality of everyone-even of those who seemed to be anything but pure. By his insistence on living in harmony with God, Jesus literally conquered death. Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who founded the Christian Science Church on the teachings of Jesus, had this to say: "The motives of his persecutors were pride, envy, cruelty, and vengeance, inflicted on the physical Jesus, but aimed at the divine Principle, Love, which rebuked their sensuality." You can read that in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 51). The triumph of Jesus' enemies was short-lived. In just three days, he rose from the grave. He had proved that good infinitely outweighs whatever is opposed to it.
Whether the motives of the gunman in Dunblane were similar to those of Jesus' persecutors, or were the outcome of some other mental disturbance, we too need to forgive as Jesus would have. His forgiveness would never condone a heinous crime; it was always a profound recognition that the power of God, of Love, must ultimately be yielded to and must triumph. A certainty of this fact is something to aim for, and seeking it will help in renewing peace and promoting wisdom and love.
The expression of love is most effective when it is based on the knowledge that each man, woman, and child is the idea, literally, of God. Innocence can never be lost, because we are truly spiritual. People don't always give proof of spirituality and goodness. But the prayerful affirmation that this is our true nature does reveal more of it.
Remembering that other people are children of God, just as we are, is essential. When we base our treatment of them in this way, it becomes more difficult for them to cut themselves off from society and to spin in isolated orbits. Persistent willingness on our part to love from this spiritual viewpoint is essential if we are to promote true security. Instead of "building walls" around schools in the hope of preserving innocence and purity, individuals can prove that the spiritual qualities of brotherly love are the very foundation of solid neighborhoods and communities. This helps to nurture the atmosphere of inclusion instead of exclusion.
One other useful thing to keep in the forefront of thought is this: events such as the one in Scotland are never sent by God to test us or to make us better. God never sends evil to anyone, and never inspires evil acts in anyone. While there may be evil in the world, obedience to God, divine Love-expressed in love to others-places adults as well as children under the sure defense provided by His law of universal harmony.
Other articles like this one can be found in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.