Dissolving prejudice

A Christian Science perspective: The Bible actually teaches us to overcome bigotry.

Evidence of cruel, ugly prejudice leaps out at us from headlines, photographs, and YouTube videos. Sometimes the bigotry stems from religious, national, or tribal allegiances, or from traditions of racial or gender prejudice. Often it continues in what appear to be inevitable cycles of revenge.In contrast, the Bible asks, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother...?” (Malachi 2:10).

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes of the struggle to overcome this treachery in ourselves: “Man’s enslavement to the most relentless masters – passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge – is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe. If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood. Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, – strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, – and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 407).

Christian Science provides a way out of the cycle of hatred by teaching how to cut through the clamor of wrong thoughts and to understand our unity with our creator, the omnipotent source of all being. We can pray to recognize our unity with God, with good, and feel the power of that divine source expressing itself in us. That vibrant divine Principle of all being made and maintains us all in His own image – transforms our thought and therefore our experience, moving us away from violence and revenge.

Every time we encounter evidence of hatred, we have a choice: We can be angered, terrified, saddened, or seduced into reaction, or we can refuse to be overwhelmed, and instead pray to acknowledge the presence of the one creator of all of us — a presence that we can actually never leave. That recognition is an active effort to affirm and understand the presence and creative power of God, who is Love (see I John 4:8).

I am reminded of one day when I went to pick up my African-American daughter from the child care center, where she spent two mornings a week. I was directed to the backyard playhouse, where she loved to play. As I came around the corner I saw our daughter with a bigger child who was snapping a towel from the playhouse kitchen in her face. With each snap he was saying, “Nigger. Nigger. Nigger.” The word was like a curse; it carried a greasy weight of degradation.

I felt a flood of red-hot anger, of powerlessness in the face of ignorance, and even a desire to hurt the boy. But at the same instant I knew that this emotional response was from some other playbook – a material sense of life, with its anger and hate – and not the harmonious, loving reality of being, which we are truly part of. 

Before coming to pick up my daughter, I had spent the morning studying and praying with the Bible’s promises, including the 91st Psalm. It says: “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust” (verses 3-4). I felt secure that no ugly dismissal of my child could touch us, and that I could speak gently with the boy and then take my daughter home with a feeling of sweet security.

I have always been grateful for that instant reprieve from the turmoil of hatred and the swirl of emotions it elicits. Grateful that when we are bombarded with images of prejudice at any level, we have the choice to turn our thought to the presence and power of divine Love – the only reality. It is not just a comfort but a strength to know that right where hatred seems to be threatening our peace, we can choose to feel God’s allness and protection. Mrs. Eddy writes, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the  Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” ("Science and Health," p. 340). 

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