As the new year dawns, many people look back at the past 12 months and ask: Has there been significant progress in the world? In my own life? As a recent Monitor feature reports, the past year has brought many sources of hope, such as green technologies, democracy movements, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty globally. Yet there were also some very disturbing events in 2012, such as violent political repression in Syria and the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. How can we confidently work toward good in the future when there is also evidence of destructive forces at work?
I've been encouraged by stepping back and looking for a broader view. For example, a recent book by Harvard University professor Steven Pinker, "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," explains that interpersonal and collective violence has actually decreased significantly over the centuries and millenniums.
After the mass shooting in Connecticut, many people are asking how it could have happened and how anyone, including children, can feel safe. I was so moved with compassion for all involved that I sat down and prayed. I asked, What is the answer? What can we do? Then I quietly listened for inspiration from God, divine Mind.
What came to me was this: "You can love." It seemed like such a simple answer. Simple, yet profound. I realized that all the people who have the most positive influence on our lives are folks who put a lot of love into what they do, whether they be parents, teachers, friends, carpenters, or whatever.
Each loving thought and action is like a stone dropped in a lake. It ripples out in concentric circles that reach far beyond the starting point. Each time our loving attitude touches a person at work, at the grocery story, or on the bus, that love is felt and is carried forth to touch every individual in that person's circle, creating many concentric circles.
Love is a power. It comforts, encourages, uplifts, inspires, and heals. Love dissolves hatred, fear, and ignorance. It is the most powerful force in the world because it aligns us with a higher, spiritual sense of things. Love illuminates each individual's true identity as the spiritual reflection of God, divine Love.
We can all keep dropping those pebbles of love in the pond of our daily experience. They will continually ripple outward in increasingly larger circles until they touch and uplift every heart, including those experiencing loss, pain, mental illness, or even violent thoughts.
Progress is divine Love in action. Love will guide decisionmakers to take practical steps to improve legislation and safety. It will inspire advances in mental health, spiritual development, and peacemaking between individuals and nations.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote, "Progress is the maturing conception of divine Love;..." ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 181). As we open our thought to the infinite presence and activity of divine Love, we'll see more of its dynamic, practical expression in the form of peace, safety, and well-being for everyone.