Someone i know was MAKING a filmstrip on obscure religions. What he discovered about one particular group was laughable. There was only one member - the founder - who could find no one good enough to come up to his religious standards.
Obviously, he was obsessed with keeping his organization pure. Such obsession is evident today in many groups, be they religious, racial, national, or even cultural and linguistic. This is more harmful than laughable. Our times pose a question: how can ethnic groups be purged of their warlike tendencies?
Since the time of the Hebrew discovery that "the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4), people have continued to explore what that means. The Bible asks, "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10).
It will help free people from ethnic fears and hatreds to recognize the fact that God, who is universal good, is expressed uniquely by every individual and group.
There is one God, and so one good - and one creation that must necessarily be as good as its creator. Accepting this as the truth, a person becomes more alert to the good that must be in others. Finding what can be appreciated does not ignore evil practices; it does, however, tend to stop prejudice against a group because of wrongs particular individuals in the group may have committed. It promotes productive coexistence.
There is a potential for genuine righteousness in every child of God, and to the degree that individuals purify themselves, they have a better basis for good relationships with their neighbors. According to the founder of this newspaper and of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, "Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness. Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand;..." ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 118).
Individual purification can be contagious - can cause others to seek something higher than old rivalries. To seek a cleansing of the destructive characteristics just noted is to engage in a warfare that harms no one, but promotes a free flow of love for one another. Ironically, it's enlarging the circle of love for one another that most inclines us to appreciate our varied backgrounds and to gain a healing understanding of even historic differences.
Understanding how we are all children of one Father-Mother can't help but open the way for genuine and helpful brotherhood and sisterhood, where it's possible to enjoy, rather than fear, cultural differences - and maybe even say to God, "Father, where Thine own children are,/ I love to be" (from Eddy's poem "Christ My Refuge"). Ethnicities can then be likened to a many-faceted jewel - an inclusive, pure culture, where we love to be with one another.
The sufferings of the Kosovars don't have to harden them. Hardships often bring individuals to their knees and spark the humility that forgives the unforgivable. Those of us who are on the sidelines can help the refugees of Kosovo look toward tomorrow with gifts for rebuilding - and with prayer. A vital feeling of progress is essential for them to have, in order to counter sorrow over the past.
No matter where the coming together of brothers and sisters is interrupted by cultural hatreds, we're right to ask Malachi's question, "Have we not all one father?" And this will probably bring to light the need for purification of our own attitudes and actions.
Here's where you and I can make a difference in the global culture! We can face up to our prejudices and let our own lives be cleansed. Then it's not too much to expect a more humane 21st century - one in which more eyes are open not only to the awful destruction of group hatred but also to the promise of genuine purity and greater peace on earth.
He giveth to all life, and
breath, and all things; and
hath made of one blood all
nations of men for to dwell on
all the face of the earth.
Acts 17:25, 26