Has anything that was said or done by anyone ever had a hurtful effect on you? Have you felt abused -- if not physically, perhaps mentally or verbally? Has anything you've ever said or done had a hurtful effect on anyone else?
Where the problem of abuse is concerned, everyone has a part to play in eliminating it. At the very least, we can begin with ourselves. Couldn't we all be more patient, gentle, and understanding with a child or teenager, more loving and forgiving with a friend, spouse, or fellow worker? To whatever degree human thoughts, words, or acts are hurtful, they are abusive and must be corrected.
We can deal effectively with abuse by spiritual means. To do so, we need to identify correctly the abuser. Books on the subject of child abuse often emphasize the importance of recognizing that a person who abuses children is usually an abused or neglected child grown to adulthood. This repetitious pattern of maltreatment is sometimes referred to as the "circle of abuse." It shows a need for compassionate help for both victim and victimizer. Labeling a person as "the abuser" and punishing him or her has proved to be of little real value in breaking the vicious circle, even though confinement may still be necessary in some situations.
But Christian Science, the law of God discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, going to the mental root of the problem, explains it is not really a person but a lie, a false sense of identity, that keeps returning abusively on itself and striking out at others. It's time to admit that mortal mind is the abuser of mankind. Mortal mind is the false consciousness, the erroneous claim, that we originate in and are subject to the limitations and injustices of matter. It whispers (often shouts) that someone is deficient, lacks love and self-worth. This supposititious mortal mind, not God, is the parent of all oppression and abuse, individual and collective. Every manifestation of evil in human history -- every instance of immorality, vice, war, disease (one of the most unjust abusers of children, men, and women) -- has its supposed origin in mortal mind. Christ Jesus said of this original abuser: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44).
The truth is, God is the only origin. We are, in reality, children of God, not of mortals. God is wholly benevolent. He is the one divine Parent of all, who nurtures and develops His own glorious expression. His creation, man and the universe, is and always has been spiritual, perfect, and holy. This truth is a divine message, the Christ, uttering its benign influence within human consciousness. It regenerates the human mind and heals all the present and past wounds produced by neglect or abuse.
God and man are one -- loving Parent and loving expression. Divine Love never abuses its own expression. The circle of divine Love starts with God, is reflected in us individually, blesses everyone, and returns to its starting point -- glorifying God. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Christian Science shows clearly that God is the only generating or regenerating power" (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 9).
It is important to see that error, not person, needs to be punished -- by our not allowing it to dwell in our thought and use us for its wrong purposes. We need to submit ourselves to the mental discipline of divine Love, as St. Paul wrote, "bringing into captivity" our "every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5). The resulting calmness of thought enables us to regain and sustain the equilibrium, wisdom, and stamina to find and employ creative alternatives for correction and rehabilitation. Prayer neutralizes violent emotions and delivers persons from potential abuse and abusiveness.
Through understanding these facts, in prayer, I have seen firsthand the healing of child abuse. Through spiritual regeneration of our own thoughts and lives, we can deal effectively with the problem of abuse in all its forms. Humanity certainly needs to feel the beneficent love that heals. God impels us to feel it, by understanding and expressing it today and every day.