A Christian Science perspective.

My big brother was my hero. High on the list of reasons was his military service as a US Army pilot during World War II, shuttling supplies between China and India in a C-46 aircraft. The route took him high over the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world. He was proud to serve his country, but rarely mentioned it. Then one day he quietly began to tell my sister and me (just school kids during the war years) about a dark night when the plane he was flying almost crashed in that cold, isolated mountainous area.

The aircraft was heavily loaded. At an extreme altitude, the wings began to ice over. That had happened often before, but never so quickly. He had always had time to maintain just enough altitude to clear the mountains. Not this time. The accumulating ice was adding excess weight so rapidly that he knew he had to make a choice. He could either gamble with the lives of the crew, trying to make it to base, or he must jettison the cargo. He quickly decided in favor of the men’s safety. The whole load was dropped into that remote area. The plane regained altitude and finally landed safely with the crew intact.

That dramatic experience brought home an important moral lesson that has helped me countless times. Often the load we need to dump is not useful equipment but mental and emotional clutter. Long after the war ended, I still carried a heavy weight of childish resentment toward the enmity that always thrives in warfare. That enmity, I finally realized, was wrong intention and mad ambition thrust upon the world, but to me it had become a personal issue – I was carrying mental baggage involving the countries where the conflict was initiated. It was a heavy emotional load to carry, and I didn’t know how to jettison it.

When I was introduced to Christian Science, I ran across an article written by Mary Baker Eddy called “Love Your Enemies” ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pp. 8-13). It was a succinct summary of the commandment of Christ Jesus to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:35-40). His teaching and healing work made it abundantly clear that it’s easy enough to love those who love you back. But if we’re serious about following his healing example, we’re not at liberty to pick and choose which neighbor we think is worth loving. Although we don’t concur with their wrongdoing, we love our enemies, too, whether they’re next door or halfway around the world. I knew that in order to follow that profound Christian command, the battle would be with myself, not with my neighbor.

“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mrs. Eddy was telling me how to fight that battle. “Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, – to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success” (p. 405). In those spiritual qualities I had all the equipment I needed to jettison the mental baggage.  This prayerful action was strengthening me by conquering the enemy within. 

What a genuine, refreshing relief it was to lighten the load of barriers that separate neighbor from neighbor. Whether it’s differences in background, culture, race, religion, or politics that weigh us down, what sweet freedom it is to maintain the safe altitude of simply loving my neighbor. That lesson prevented a good many emotional crashes that might have resulted from carrying the dead weight of enmity.

My brother is no longer with us, but he’s still my hero. Whenever I meet a veteran, I can feel my deiced heart overflowing with the warmth of gratitude for the unselfish service, the quiet courage, the strength, and the lessons I learn from each one. In every veteran, I see my brother, my sister. My hero.
  

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.