Overpowering domestic violence
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
A jealous spouse, a rebellious child, an impatient parent, can erupt into an out-of-control monster and wreak havoc on a family, even a community. Too many lives are lost and homes disrupted by domestic violence.
Violent anger is not beyond control or prevention. Divine Love can overpower it. The human expression of Love's power is what can prevent a perpetrator from acting out vicious thoughts, protect innocent bystanders, and promote safety in communities.
I discovered something of this power several years ago at the poultry-packing plant where I worked. As plant employees spilled out of the doors at the end of the day, one man was yelling furiously at a woman. He was bodily dragging her down the street. She managed to pull herself toward the entrance to my office. As I came face to face with this man and urged him to let the woman go, he turned on me with such rage that I froze with fear. He yanked her away. Hundreds of us just stood there dazed by the scene.
Although I felt terror from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, I realized that if someone didn't stop him, he might seriously injure or even kill this woman (who was his wife).
Suddenly I felt impelled by a power beyond myself - way beyond the fear I was feeling - to follow them. At first, I could hardly believe I was walking down that street! But I quickly became aware that something quite unlike physical force, something greater than personal initiative or bravery, was propelling me. It was a power and authority that was equally tender and caring. It was shielding and protecting me.
Walking slowly toward them, I spoke gently. As I came near, the man quieted, put his wife down, and let her rest against a parked car. I said I didn't want to interfere but only wanted him to release his wife and talk with her.
And that's exactly what he did. He agreed not to harm her and I walked away. The crowd dispersed and everyone went calmly home. Both the uncontrolled rage he had exhibited a few moments before and the terror I had felt dissipated. (Incidentally, although this couple got divorced, I sometimes saw them in the cafeteria, apparently enjoying each other's company.)
For days I asked myself what that amazing impulsion was I'd felt. I knew I was not the source of it, that I'd only been the expression of it. I certainly knew from its healing effect that it was something more powerful than hate, more powerful than fear - and that it was entirely good. Most of all, I wanted to know how I could consistently have this healing power in my life.
I didn't talk to anyone about this incident, nor did anyone in the office mention it. But a short time later I began reading a book by this newspaper's founder, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." I found plausible explanations of the absolute power of the living, active force many people call God, who is all-good, all-loving. A power that has no destructive element in it, but brings healing to humankind.
For instance, Mary Baker Eddy wrote in that book, "No power can withstand divine Love" (pg. 224). The Bible says "God is love" and "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:16, 18). I found my answer to what had happened that day in these simple statements.
I had obviously felt this Love expressing itself. The power of anger and violence was absolutely powerless in Love's presence. My earnest desire to prevent a tragedy had brought my thoughts and actions under the control of this awesome force for good, and in turn had calmed the troubled man and protected his wife.
I'm convinced that the same loving power Christ Jesus knew and exercised to walk safely through an angry mob, and to restore a violently insane man to his right mind, is available to anyone willing to follow his example. We're all the precious children of this God whom Jesus recognized as his Father, the source of his being. We can begin to glimpse ourselves as the actual expression of divine Love, and effectively, safely, overpower and prevent violence whenever and wherever it presents itself.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society