Predators and what can be done about predation

Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

There's a need to change the way the human family thinks about predators. Predators are developed and influenced, not born.

Gardeners know about combatting predation. Invasive weeds rob valuable space, nutrients, and sunlight. They stunt the growth of young row plants and steal from the gardener time that could be better spent.

The savvy gardener knows how important it is to invest in removing weeds, roots and all, whether she's battling dandelions in an Ohio flower garden or witchweed in a Nigerian maize plot. She also prevents invasive predators from germinating or prospering.

What about human predation on a bigger scale? Consider just a few current examples: global terrorism practiced by Al Qaeda and its linked groups; molestation of children and women by clergy; slash-and-burn agriculture in the world's rain forests; the destructive greed of a few prominent corporations and corporate officers.

As different as these examples are, they share common roots. Predators have different motives, but underneath every act of predation lies a concept of life and mentality as material, and therefore subject to distortion and destructiveness. If we're little more than organisms in competition for survival and dominance, then predation is normal. And most biological and social scientists, and many theologians, say that human existence is bound in an organic and social chemistry that's mirrored in selfish motives and actions.

For the sake of the human family's health and peace, though, predation ultimately must be eradicated. The healing process will advance as people gain a radically different view of life - as spiritual, having the nature of the divine Creator. Healing is possible because the fears, ignorance, and moral weaknesses that make people prey on each other are the products of misguided thoughts and belief systems. And thoughts are always subject to change and reform.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy once asked: "Are we clearing the gardens of thought by uprooting the noxious weeds of passion, malice, envy, and strife? Are we picking away the cold, hard pebbles of selfishness, uncovering the secrets of sin and burnishing anew the hidden gems of Love, that their pure perfection shall appear? Are we feeling the vernal freshness and sunshine of enlightened faith?

"The weeds of mortal mind are not always destroyed by the first uprooting; they reappear, like devastating witch-grass, to choke the coming clover. O stupid gardener! watch their reappearing, and tear them away from their native soil, until no seedling be left to propagate - and rot" ("Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896," pg. 343).

Strong words, but it takes strong, persistent mental effort, and trials of faith, to uproot aggressive thoughts and motives. Indeed, the healing of predation and its effects may be one of those "greater works" that Jesus promised that believers would do.

Jesus healed people who suffered from what today are thought to be genetic conditions, including a violent case of epilepsy and another of severe mental illness. His works are profoundly encouraging, not as miracles, but as markers pointing toward laws that sustain our being.

There is another model of life than the one defined by theories of evolutionary biology and sociology. This model is the Christ. Christ is the beloved title of that exceptional man, Jesus. But the Christ is much more than the name associated with the religion called Christianity. It's the essence of each one of us, as spiritual beings. The Christ reveals the unique individuality each of us has as God's art in Science - created according to the spiritual laws of being. When Christ stirs our hearts, predatory thoughts are rooted out and denied habitat.

Regardless of our personal histories, innocence is at the core of our spiritual identity. It's as natural to us as are intelligence and kindness. Every act of self-correction and reform is impelled by the divine Principle that made us originally innocent. And the daily sum of these victories amounts to a collective step toward humanity's ultimate freedom from being prey or predator.

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