Civil unrest has been sweeping the globe this year in one form or another – the Arab Spring, riots in Greece resulting from austerity measures, violence in British cities, recent steps taken in India to stop a mass anticorruption protest. Many uprisings indicate that society is on shaky ground.
Various theories offer solutions. In Syria and Libya, efforts have been made to restore stability through violence; in Egypt, through political concessions; in the eurozone, through economic belt-tightening. In Britain the debate has led to squabbles between the police and the government, and the opposition has called for a complete shake-up of society.
Another answer starts with turning our hearts and minds toward God. In the Bible, Christ Jesus told a parable of a house built on a firm foundation. And “when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”
In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy wrote that for her there was no other place to build a stable, fruitful, loving, and caring life but on the teachings of the Bible including the prophets, Jesus, and his apostles, and the healing Science she discovered that Jesus practiced. She wrote: “I ... plant myself unreservedly on the teachings of Jesus, of his apostles, of the prophets, and on the testimony of the Science of Mind. Other foundations there are none. All other systems – systems based wholly or partly on knowledge gained through the material senses – are reeds shaken by the wind, not houses built on the rock” (p. 269).
In some cases civil unrest has laudable motives – a response to despotic leadership or an effort to improve the standard of living. In others, minorities have used violent protests as a way to cause public disorder and commit theft. But in either case, a solution built upon trust and reliance on God has a firm foundation.
Issues that have become apparent in the current civil unrest include inequality, greed, inequity, division, and at times a lack of respect for one’s neighbor. In most of the places around the world where people have been drawn into the streets, some or all of these issues have been cited as reasons to protest.
Christian Science teaches that in the eyes of God, who is our Father, we are all equal; no one is better than anyone else. God supplies the needs of His children, and the inspired giving of ourselves can actually benefit us all, as Mrs. Eddy stated: “Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us” (“Science and Health,” p. 79). Jesus taught that we should love, not hate. He said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39).
We can see evidence of God’s firm foundation all around us, even in situations where we might expect hatred, violence, and crime. And we can actively look for neighbors loving one another, too. I recently saw a small example of this.
I was on a train traveling in the north of England, to one of the cities severely affected by recent violent exchanges. An elderly man boarded and sat quietly at the end of the car. At the next stop, a large group of soccer fans boarded. They were fans of a premiership club renowned for being the most violent, extreme, and hateful in British sport.
The men gravitated toward where the gentleman was sitting and began to drink heavily and behave boisterously. I was concerned about the man’s safety, and I knew I had only one way to turn – to pray to God to see that He had made everyone on that train capable of being a peaceful, respectful neighbor. Those words of Jesus about loving our neighbor came to mind. The journey seemed to drag on, but after half an hour, the train stopped and the fans all alighted. And so did the gentleman. Still praying, I witnessed a wonderful thing. With utmost courtesy, the fans helped the man from the train, carried his suitcase for him, and all shook hands with him. This small example of calm prevailing in a troubled situation rekindled my hope.
Instead of trying to repair the foundations of a society built on material beliefs, a solution can be found with God. We can look through division, hatred, and greed, building upon God’s stable foundation of love, sharing, and caring.