Our common humanity

A Christian Science perspective: A response to how police departments have changed in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., shooting. 

When the St. Louis County Police Department stepped in to police the protests in Ferguson, Mo., one officer, Lt. Jerry Lohr, decided to get to know the protesters. He now knows many of them by name and, at one point, said, “Allowing people to talk on a one-on-one level does a lot as far as building bridges.... [T]hey at least know my name and my face. I’m human again. They realize that I’m a person. I’m not just a uniform” (“In Ferguson, Officer Defused Eruptions as Crowds Grew Tense,” The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2014). During the time of frequent protests, the demonstrators showed their appreciation for the lieutenant and asked for his help in resolving problems.

Lohr’s humanity opened a respectful dialogue. When we treat others in the way we would like to be treated, with respect and kindness, we value their worth and acknowledge the common bond we share. But this does more than bring out a higher sense of humanity; respecting one another honors God and His creation.

I don’t know if Lohr is religious, but his actions correspond with the second of Christ Jesus’ two great commandments: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

If our neighbors are not being loving, or are perhaps speaking angrily, does this relieve us of our responsibility to love? No, not at all. The love Jesus taught is a spiritual love that looks past hate to acknowledge each individual’s connection to God as explained in the Scriptures. To love in this way is to love the true, Godlike nature of our fellow beings, even when they may not appear to be exhibiting this nature.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this publication, poses this question, “if the unselfish affections be lacking, and common sense and common humanity are disregarded, what mental quality remains, with which to evoke healing from the outstretched arm of righteousness?” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 365). To pave the way toward healing, we can supply the “unselfish affections” that are needed in any situation. When we respond lovingly to another and seek to understand that individual’s true, spiritual nature, we find the power of God’s love at work in our relationships. Seeing everyone as the reflection of God is a Bible-based teaching of Christian Science that promotes healing.

Many of us may never be in the situation Lohr was in, but we can contribute to the ongoing need for healing through prayer. One way to pray is to silently affirm the spiritual truths about God and His creation. For example, knowing God, good, is all-powerful, we can prayerfully reject the suggestion that hatred or fear could influence the actions of anyone. We can affirm the truth that God upholds and empowers all that is good. In this way we are doing our part to cultivate the spiritual qualities that contribute to healing.

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