Taking a stand against hatred

A Christian Science perspective: How to love in the face of Islamic extremism.

Our globe has felt effects from the recent upsurge of Islamic extremism. On Oct. 23, CSMonitor.com reported that after what appeared to be a terrorist attack in Ottawa that killed one soldier, New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair took a stand against the hatred that is fueling Islamic extremists. He declared, “These acts were driven by hatred, but also designed to drive us to hate. They will not” (see “Learning from Canada after Ottawa attack”).

Mr. Mulcair’s declaration reminded me of an old proverb: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty.” In regards to that proverb, 18th-century writer and philanthropist Hannah More said, “If I wished to punish my enemy, I should make him hate somebody.”

In another related statement, the founder of the Monitor and Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, also writes about hatred in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “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).

An army of conspirators! Who wants that? Yet, that is precisely what hatred brings if we allow it through our mental door. It may come in a blustery display, full of self-justification; it may brew a deep inner seething fed by jealousy, fear, or resentment; but ultimately it brings its own torment. Hatred is a product of what the Bible calls “the carnal mind,” which is described as opposing, even hating, God (see Romans 8:7).

The master Christian, Christ Jesus, who faced and conquered intense hatred, instructed: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43, 44).

There is only one solution for hatred, and that is love. But, not just a human love that tries its best to be good and to love. It is divine Love with a capital “L” – meaning God, who is Love. Understanding that God is all-encompassing, omnipotent, omnipresent Love, brings increasing evidence of Love’s presence in our human experience and its resulting effects of peace.

This is why we don’t have to be afraid. Power lies in the allness of God, who is Love and the only Mind. Hatred, which abides only in a false sense of ourselves as separate from Love and having a mind unlike Love, gives way to the understanding of Love’s all-powerful presence and our real individuality as Love’s image, or expression. It is the power of Love that destroys hate. It is Love, God, that comforts and binds up all wounds, resolves conflicts, and brings harmony to our lives.

Through the divine Science that Mrs. Eddy taught, we learn that we all, as God’s children, naturally reflect His love. We reflect Love as we conquer “the propensities,” subduing hatred with kindness and charity. As we lift our view of ourselves and others higher to the spiritual reality that is even now true about us, we can begin to see that everyone is the offspring of Love, incapable of accomplishing anything opposed to Love’s being.

So this holiday season, let us subdue hatred by knowing that we have the ability to take the hand of our Jewish brothers, our Muslim sisters, our Hindu friends and love everyone for who they truly are, God’s children. It is in this prayer for one giant global family that we will find peace.

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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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