Reconciliation is possible

A Christian Science perspective: A response to the Monitor’s View on ‘German lessons for an Asia riven by history’

The Monitor’s View titled, “German lessons for an Asia riven by history,” discusses the example of Germany and its “work of reconciliation” among European neighbors, especially with respect to the atrocities it committed during World War II. German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to share advice on Germany’s reconciliation with other countries in order to assist Mr. Abe in his relationships with Asian neighbors.

Repentance is ultimately what Germany has been demonstrating: acknowledgment of its wrongful WWII acts and remorse for them along with the assurance of change. The forgiveness shown to Germany along with the gratitude and repentance the country has expressed have helped strengthen relationships among nations, effectively planting seeds of reconciliation that will grow for years to come.

No matter what situation needs to be reconciled – whether it’s between nations or individuals – the process starts with changes in the hearts and minds of individuals. So in order to bring this about in our own lives, or to support it worldwide, it’s important that we begin with ourselves. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, emphasizes the importance of repentance: “Examine yourselves, and see what, and how much, sin claims of you; and how much of this claim you admit as valid, or comply with. The knowledge of evil that brings on repentance is the most hopeful stage of mortal mentality” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 109). Self-examination enables us to uncover and acknowledge evil – and this is essential in the repentance process.

True repentance includes remorse for any wrongdoing and a willingness to change, and these make it easier for us to forgive others. Regarding forgiveness, we can look to the example of Jesus. Jesus loved with unlimited compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice. His love was profoundly shown in giving his life on the cross for the salvation of all mankind and in forgiving those who crucified him. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ love for humanity was grounded in his spiritual understanding of God and man – in the understanding that God is our only Parent and we are His children. The truth he taught and lived was the Christ, the divine influence he expressed, that worked reformation in the thoughts of people whose lives he touched.

Grounded in a spiritual understanding of God and man, as we strive to emulate Jesus’ love for humanity and pray to acknowledge and love others as God’s children, we will find our hearts transformed by the power of God, divine Love. We will recognize that the Christ, the influence of God’s love, speaks to every heart, showing each one of us that we are made by Him in the image of Love – nothing less than loving. Learning to respect ourselves and others as Love’s likeness advances reconciliation. The divine influence that makes changes within our hearts is the same influence that moves others to act with repentance and forgiveness. It’s what Mrs. Eddy calls “a divine influence ever present in human consciousness” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. xi), and it can break cycles of anger, resentment, revenge, guilt, and grudges. We can support humanity’s receptivity to its healing effects through our prayers and our own responsiveness to the Christ.

While human footsteps play a significant role in reconciliation efforts, prayers based on a sincere recognition of God’s healing and unifying power can guide and forward these efforts. Prayerfully trusting God with our desire for reconciliation begins to dissolve the burden of past events and mend relationships. With the assurance that divine Love is at work transforming thought in individual, national, and international relationships, we are resting on a firm foundation that nurtures reconciliation.

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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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