The past week's headlines reported various scenes of violence. Last Friday, anti-globalization activists rioted in Brussels. Sunday saw multiple attacks on women in New York City's Central Park. On Monday night, vandals torched businesses and automobiles following the Los Angeles Lakers' first championship victory in 12 years.
I used to regularly attend soccer matches in Europe, where mindless "fans" would sometimes become hostile in the name of supporting their teams. I never got caught up in the violence on and off the terraces. But I did have a deep dread of it. The excitement on the field never left as intense an impression as the image I still recall of a visiting team's stand being invaded by a rioting crowd of home supporters, the police having been temporarily outmaneuvered.
Since those days, I've learned more about God. I've loved the assurance I've been gaining that I can find security in feeling the actual presence of God, who is divine Love.
Incidents of mob mentality undermine trust in our fellow human beings. At times, I have been struck by images of mob rule in the news and have thought, "What can I do about this?" And I've come to feel increasingly confident that it is worth praying for the safety and peace of all.
It meant a lot to pause and pray that way last week when the temptation was to resign myself to the violence as being beyond control. I listened for better thoughts - from the divine Mind, which is also a name for God. This infinite Mind is not deranged, but perfectly good. I realized I could gain a clearer sense of how God has made us. I could develop a recognition of man and woman as being the "image" and "likeness" of that good Mind, as the Bible says we are (see Gen. 1:26, 27). The likeness of God can't be ruled by a mob mentality.
Jesus proved in his own time that, because of God's power, an angry crowd intent on harming him could not succeed (see Luke, chap. 4). We can help ourselves and one another by praying for everyone to know the God-given safety from mob rule that Jesus proved.
"Clad in the panoply of Love [God], human hatred cannot reach you," wrote the founder of the Monitor (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 571). This concept has brought me greater confidence that I am safe, even in threatening situations where everything seems out of control. Like the time, during a summer of inner-city rioting, when a crowd gathered where I was standing, and the police moved in. I started praying, and when the police shoved me aggressively, the friend who was with me pointed out that it was actually good that they had chosen to push a person who wouldn't react angrily! The crowd moved on, and things remained peaceful.
We can pray for perpetrators of violence. They are truly God's children, too, and as such are receptive to his influence. No matter what the appearance, evil doesn't have the power to dominate good. God is good, and God is predominant over all else. That's what Jesus knew, and proved, when that mob tried to push him over the edge of a hill. Through his perception of what was spiritually true, "he passing through the midst of them went his way" (Luke 4:30).
It's worth praying now for the right of people to be anywhere without fear of being assaulted. For the right to enjoy sporting events without fear of violence inside or outside the stadium. This prayer comforts me and, I believe, lends support to humanity's spiritual journey out of such mayhem.
There was a little city,
and few men within it;
and there came a great
king against it, and besieged
it, and built great bulwarks
against it: now there was
found in it a poor wise man,
and he by his wisdom
delivered the city; yet no
man remembered that
same poor man.
Ecclesiastes 9:14, 15
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