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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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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