Good Relations

SOMETIMES news reports seem to be competing with each other not just to cover the news, but to report most graphically all the violence and unsolved relationship problems that can be found. One's response is important. We can feel upset and dismayed, and so add to the contentious spiral that the world seems to be in. Or we can do the opposite in some way, and remain undisturbed.

Wouldn't it be nice to hear or read something like this: "A great thing happened today. Two people on different sides of a standing feud suddenly found themselves in complete agreement." If this were to happen many times over, the approach of people to conflict would be transformed. We can start today to promote that kind of result.

It isn't self-righteousness or superiority or condoning something wrong that will help break the mold of contention and small expectation for improvement. It is always knowing one's own relation to God that helps us to build good human relationships with others. To grasp this may seem difficult. Referring to God as divine Mind, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, observed: "The general thought chiefly regards material things, and keeps Mind much out of sight." But her next statement offered this: "The Christian, however, strives for the spiritual; he abides in a right purpose, as in laws which it were impious to transgress, and follows Truth fearlessly. . . . To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 159-160).

We have to turn to God, the one controlling power, who can permeate our lives and those of everyone else with His wisdom and love. This is what counteracts the power of doubt or fear or criticism or resentment. It rebuilds human relationships.

Christ Jesus showed this. The world he came to help wasn't a happy one as far as relationships were concerned, but the essence of all his teaching was to make the people he met feel the love of God, which inspires individuals and brings them together. Jesus urged his own disciples to love their enemies. He said in one sermon, "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matthew 5:23, 24).

Does this mean that we always have to do what our neighbor demands, however wrong or unreasonable it may be? No. It means rethinking the whole situation for ourselves, and praying for spiritual perception and insight, which can bring about ideas. Ideas are what in one way or another will form a consensus. One meaning of the word reconcile is "to bring back to harmony." And this doesn't relate only to the reconciliation of individual lives. It extends to world situations as well. They are, after all, made up of individual relationships.

Perhaps prayer doesn't seem practical to help human relationships. But praying is important, even if we ourselves haven't contributed to global warfare or aren't involved in personal conflict. I remember clearly being very upset a number of years ago, at a time of great stress in world affairs. I began to realize I was punishing myself by my own negative reactions to it all. I was adding to the general feeling of bitterness and resentment in this way. I saw then that the only way to break free was to leave the feelings of bitterness behind, in exchange for the thoughts that come in prayer. I knew there was plenty of peace to draw on through understanding God and feeling His guidance. I have often recalled the happiness that followed, and have realized how effective it was for me to pray.

That wasn't self-centered. It involved breaking the mold of human discord by hearing God's messages. These are available to us all, and they heal contention by destroying it. They promote a better world. If everyone prayed more in both private and public life, even news broadcasts would come around to including more reports of positive incidents and good relations.

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