Dousing the flames of anger in US politics

A Christian Science perspective.

All fires start small. That’s why firefighters move so fast in the opening moments following a call. If they can smother a small blaze before it takes hold, it never becomes a 200,000-acre monster, or even a two-acre heartbreaker. Smoldering anger is a bit like that. It may start with a small, nastily worded comment. Will it then spread into something larger? It doesn’t have to. If, for instance, it’s pounced on with sincere regret on one side and genuine forgiveness on the other – and if those responses are glimpsed as having a basis in genuine love – then smoldering anger is brought to a quick end. Healing happens. Peace is restored.

What about the anger raging across the political scene in the United States? It’s been a long time since anyone called that small. TV commentators on one end of the spectrum hurl verbal Molotov cocktails at the other. That gets matched by their counterparts on the other end, doing pretty much the same thing. And so the anger, and the blame, burn on. One-on-one Republican/Democrat encounters, where cooler heads manage to prevail, won’t snuff out this firestorm. But at least they don’t add to it – a modest, but still worthy goal.

How to end the big blaze? It’s been argued that the US is so deeply divided, and the flames of animosity are so sweeping, that the nation has become ungovernable. The implication is that the political hostility has evolved into something inextinguishable. That argument, though, overlooks the anger-ending power of prayer. To end a big blaze, pray with an even bigger spiritual fact.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, states a huge truth. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). No, this is not simply a nice thought or theory from the Bible: It’s a powerful spiritual reality. Christ, the message of divinely derived unity, comes from God to human consciousness. Christ leaves no one out. Christ leaves nothing unchanged. Christ heals. The transforming fact that we “are all one in Christ” falls on singed human hearts like a spring rain. Thoughts, touched by the Christ, irresistibly change for the better. So does the political landscape. Willingness to hold to these spiritual perceptions, even before they show up on the human scene, is central to prayer-based healing.

Mary Baker Eddy, a devoted follower of Jesus, as well as the founder of the Monitor, touched on the unifying power of the Divine, which transcends politics, economics, race, fear, and other divisive issues. As part of a discussion of the First Commandment, she wrote, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340). Realize that in prayer, and anger begins to cool. As smoke clears, common ground comes into view.

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