Toward ending random acts of violence

A Christian Science perspective.

Random acts of violence are not new. History has long recorded violence as a sport against anonymous victims in shooting sprees, “happy slapping,” and more recently in what some refer to as the “knockout game,” in which an individual – usually with a gang – attempts to knock a stranger unconscious with one blow, leaving the victim severely wounded or dead.

It startles our sensibilities to hear reports about groups of youths who travel streets for that purpose, laugh about it, and even take pictures to post on social media. But is there a remedy? What can you and I do about it?

The Bible’s spiritual message can set things in a right direction to stop violence, correct wrongs, and replace fearful uncertainty with the calm expectancy of good. Prayer is the universal tool for such transformation. The Bible assures us, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

A false premise that is sometimes at the outset of prayer is the assumption that both good and evil thoughts emanate from the same source. Christian Science reveals that good thoughts are spiritual, reflections of the divine Mind, while evil thoughts are mortal and are the outgrowth of a mistaken sense of things.

While to the material senses evil feels and looks and seems to be very real and even powerful, Christian Science shows that evil’s apparent reality can be overcome by good, which is spiritual power. Such spiritual power originates in God, divine Love. Christ Jesus showed through his own life that the ultimate power of good saves humanity from worldly wrongs, including violence; it heals the sick and, as Jesus proved, can raise the dead.

Following Jesus’ example, if we would be an influence to lessen violence, it is our life’s imperative to express honesty and love. We can let the spirit of the Christ reign in us by replacing hate with compassion, and revenge with forgiveness. The man or woman of God’s creating is never condemned, but evil must face the rejection and condemnation of Christlike goodness in order to be destroyed.

Writing of this, the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, instructs: “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. The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 571).

Understanding this leads to real solutions for the fundamental ills of society. Good thinking and living provide an impervious armor against the negative influences of poor role models or violent movies and video games. It is only in such righteous living that the small-minded errors of peer pressure, jealousy, anti-Semitism, and racial hatred – often used to explain and even excuse wanton violence – can be stopped.

Understanding that no element of God’s creation can victimize or be victimized by another is a good start. Because crime of any type is not part of the expression of God, it has no legitimacy in anyone’s thinking, and instead, we can expect to see harmony reflected in peaceful, constructive interactions with others.

Overcoming evil with good was evident in the Apostle Paul’s transformation. Known first as Saul, he lacked compassion for others who were not of his faith, as indicated by his work to have followers of Jesus killed. Yet Saul felt the magnificent power of Christ’s healing touch reform him. And with that transformation he took the new name of Paul and was able to demonstrate spiritual strength to help and heal others.

All of us can do more to stop violence in whatever form it takes – random or premeditated – as we acknowledge that God protects and directs His children and as we let goodness inspire our motives and actions. Jesus explained, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45).

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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.”

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