Tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, and citizen preparedness

A Christian Science perspective: In light of the shooting that took place Tuesday at the Washington Navy Yard, how can people be prepared for the unexpected?

After the recent shooting tragedy in the Washington Navy Yard in the US capital, one newscast reported that many lives were saved because employees had been trained in how to protect themselves if such an event should occur. The training that saved lives is certainly something to be grateful for. Thinking about it, though, led me to consider the most basic preparedness citizens can equip themselves with – a preparedness that can guide and strengthen whatever measures may be necessary to provide a safer society.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Chief Medical Officer Janis Orlowski made an important point when she updated reporters on the status of those who had been shot at the navy yard. She said, “There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate.... Let’s get rid of this.”  

The breeding ground of evil acts is the presence of evil in human consciousness – and that is where evil needs to be dealt with and defeated. This is not an activity that can be legislated or accomplished in any way by the human mind itself, but it can be engaged in by individual citizens and implemented in individual lives. It has to do with the power of God, divine Love. Divine Love removes evil from human consciousness in the same way that light removes darkness from your living room – simply by being welcomed in.

I’m not talking about some namby-pamby “just love everyone and everything will be all right" theory. I’m talking about what individuals can do to be alert and perceptive – able to think clearly in ways that can prevent the unexpected, as well as to respond to such an event in ways that result in safety for others as well as for themselves.

On its own, the human mind can be opaque to signs of impending danger, as well as filled with fear, anger, and confusion when actual danger is present. On the other hand, an individual who nurtures within herself or himself a close communion with the divine intelligence called God can remain calm – and receptive to guidance from that omnipotent and ever-present source of wisdom and direction. The Bible notes this: “[T]hine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). This is how one person can contribute mightily to the safety of everyone.

Divine Love disarms hate. There is no limit to the good that can come when one individual makes a daily practice of becoming mentally quiet in prayer, welcoming the spiritual light of divine Love into his or her consciousness to clear away fear, confusion, and human will.

No one wants to believe that the “new normal” for American society – or anywhere in the world – should be that we expect senseless shootings of innocent citizens, or any other tragedy, to continue. Nevertheless, the evil in human thought needs to be uprooted, and we can begin with ourselves by nurturing a heartfelt daily communion with God. We can definitely find that “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” And we can follow this advice: “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalms 62:7, 8).

The founder of The Christian Science Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, agreed wholeheartedly. She said: “At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 571). The more we commune with God – get to know Him as divine Life, Truth, and Love, and get to know our own true selves as God’s image and likeness under His loving control – the more we will be calm, perceptive, God-guided thinkers who can act to prevent and neutralize the evil that claims the ability and power to control individuals and cause them to threaten and take the lives of innocents. Your efforts in this direction offer great hope and safety for you and everyone.

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