The last several days the newspapers have been filled with reports of multiple murders. One newspaper reported that a young man killed his "mama, papa, granny, granddaddy," and several others; a jilted lover killed his girlfriend and her housemates; still another student went on a rampage in Germany; and a pastor was killed while giving his sermon. We can spend a lot of time looking for causes of these acts of violence, but most psychologists and criminologists studying violent behavior come to the conclusion that violence does not come naturally but is a conditioned response. Abuse, poverty, fear, and violent video games can be a part of this conditioning. When anger, frustration, and hatred consume one's thoughts, there is no room for rational discussion and emotions explode into irrational acts.
Does this mean that people are helpless victims before such troubled individuals? Do they just let these heinous crimes take place without trying to prevent them? Absolutely not. Crime is held in check by maintaining law and order, of course, but there is another law that each of us can turn to in order to make good decisions, to feel safer, and also to help someone who might be considering a violent act. This is the law that Jesus lived by and taught to his followers. This law has its source in God, divine Love. But it's not a law that ignores evil thoughts and acts. Rather, it's a law powerful enough to eliminate them completely. That may sound impossible, but Jesus was able to prove this when an angry crowd set upon him with murderous intent. His refusal to hate them wiped out the mental dynamic that would have pulled him into their hatred (see John 8:52–59).
Jesus perceived everyone in spiritual terms, as the man (or woman) whom God created. He could see beyond the insane man who was violent and lived among the tombs, and others who were troubled with severe illnesses to the spiritual idea God created.
This is the demand placed on us as we read or hear about today's violent acts. Understanding God as Love and everyone's identity as God's image and likeness scientifically separates evil from us and destroys the madness that would harm another or seek revenge for what would seem to be an unforgiveable act.
In an article called "Love Your Enemies," Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Love is the fulfilling of the law; it is grace, mercy, and justice" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 11). At his crucifixion, Christ Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
This is a difficult standard to meet, yet our world so desperately needs an end to violence that it is worth the effort. So if a standoff or a shootout is in the news, it's well to immediately join the law enforcement efforts by bringing one's sense of Love's presence to the scene of evil's hatred. There's no need to go there ourselves; we can help best by knowing the omnipresence of Love, cherishing God's child in any situation. Love dissolves the chains of evil's anger and emotionalism, enveloping everyone concerned – the victims, the one out of control, law enforcement – in the embrace of Love and Love's supreme authority over all His creation.
To do this demands ridding ourselves of every iota of hateful thinking, and loving without condition or restriction. Anger and hatred, indifference and irritation, resentment and criticism within our own thought hinder our ability to love others. These are the enemies of love, which we need to cast out. Then we can seek a common ground for reconciliation and forgiveness, a tenderness and thoughtfulness that touches the hearts of others and helps them feel God's love for them.
To see God as Love, and creation as His loving, loved, and lovable children, brings out the best in us and in others. We see them as God sees them, and this helps lift off the scars of the past that may have filled them with hate. To love deeply and sincerely is natural to us as God's creation, to the beloved of Love. This contributes to harmony among humanity and helps make our world a safer place.