Bad news: responding versus reacting

A Christian Science perspective.

Most days there are many events and much information that bid for our intelligent, even healing, attention. Sometimes it's tempting to feel overwhelmed or to react to them emotionally and without constructive thought.

When I was growing up, my dad would often warn my sister and me against merely reacting to what the other one was doing or saying. "If you just react," he'd say, "you're letting someone else do your thinking for you."

Through the years I've often thought of this warning and recognized the value of a thoughtful response over merely reacting. This is true not only in conversation but also when I'm listening and seeing accounts of the day's happenings worldwide as portrayed in the news.

One problem with reacting is that it doesn't point the way to correction. Also, a reaction keeps the door open to repetition of the event.

News of the tragic killings at Fort Hood, rising unemployment, the size of our national debt, are some of the current topics demanding attention. Taking a moment to stop and pray when hearing of these troubled situations leads to finding a healing response in our own consciousness, which may lead us to further constructive prayer or even to taking some healing action.

Responding intelligently to an issue can remind us that there is a good solution to every problem. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, has given an interesting description of good. It reads, "God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omni-action" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 587). Good is from God and is the only action. This gives much food for thought. It may be challenging to realize that because God is good and All, evil never has the last word. But we more easily find solutions that promise good as we refuse to react in horror, fear, or disgust to some personal or more universal problem.

This is particularly challenging when hearing news of the shootings at Fort Hood. Even if our first response is a feeling of horror, we can go beyond that. A response of appreciating all that's being done to understand the situation and to create defenses against similar occurrences will help dismiss the horror. The truth of God's goodness and allness in back of our healing response will also bless the families of the victims. There is healing in genuine thoughtful responses.

When reading the news of rising unemployment, I've had to deliberately refuse to react with the thought, "Oh, those poor laid-off workers," and instead to recognize in some detail that each one of us is God's reflection and therefore includes all opportunity for expressing good.

As for news of our national debt or other national issues, we can rise above reacting with dismay and mentally insist on the wisdom of our elected officials. How much more productive this is than reacting with partisan fervor.

Jesus never simply reacted to evil, or allowed it to have the last word. Even when confronting a dead man, who was the only son of his widowed mother, Jesus did not react, even with sympathy. As recorded in the Bible, Jesus' response was to heal the man. Then the Bible says, "And he delivered him to his mother" (see Luke 7:11–18). And one can never forget Jesus' response to those who planned and carried out his crucifixion: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

As we follow, even in a small degree, the example of Jesus, who is often called the Wayshower, we learn the great value of not reacting but responding intelligently and lovingly to all that demands our attention today.

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