How to stand guard to stop senseless violence

A Christian Science perspective: Inspiration from the heroism expressed in the thwarted Paris terrorist attack.

Apparently, if a person stops long enough to think about thwarting danger in a high-stakes setting, most people opt out.

Still, that statistic hasn’t put the brakes on heroism, such as the recent foiled attack on passengers traveling on a high-speed train to Paris. Three American men, two off-duty service members and their friend, made the split-second decision to rush an armed man and tackle him to the ground, subduing him and wrestling away his weapons. French authorities expressed profound gratitude for their actions and commended them for their courage and quick thinking.

With a constant stream of global news, we may be more aware than ever before of the need to remain alert to heinous and often hidden schemes of crime. Senseless acts of violence should not bully the majority or cause us to feel fearful of going about our everyday activities.

Perhaps it’s the quality of thought in nonemergency situations that can arrest evil intentions before they are carried out, as well as help to break the cycles of violence. Even if we ourselves aren’t labeled the hero, we can wage our own protest against acts of terrorism or violence with each thought we choose to entertain.

Instead of feeling that there’s nothing we can do, we can, through prayer, take up “mental arms” to deny violence power. Prayer enables us to get at the root of violent acts, which are based on fear and hatred. It helps us cultivate a firm understanding of good and the power of God, from which we can intelligently challenge the common misconception that fear and hatred have power over good.

The Apostle Paul’s counsel to the people of Corinth emphasized the kind of “mental arms” we can use today in our prayers to counter evil. With each communication, Paul guided the people in ways that would follow Christ Jesus’ teachings. As a man who once terrorized innocent Christians with human force, the reformed Paul advised the opposite: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds ... and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (II Corinthians: 10:3-5, New International Version).

We reform and foil evil not through similar tools of hatred or aggression, but through the power of loving our neighbor, seeing them as God created them. We take on the spirit of Christ Jesus’ teachings ourselves by following the model of his own life: by genuine goodness, courage in the face of wrong, and following divinely inspired wisdom. His actions were based on the knowledge of an all-powerful, loving God, who guides and governs us. This love has the ability to “tear down strongholds” such as intimidation, fear, or anger caused by acts of terror, and it can be realized today through our own heartfelt prayers for humanity.

The discoverer of Christian Science and founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, used the term “one Mind” in reference to the one all-wise God, who defines our true nature as His spiritual image and likeness, and who guides our prayers as we listen for direction. “When we realize that there is one Mind,” she wrote, “the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 205).

It was Mrs. Eddy’s life purpose to contribute to the greater good, and she encouraged others to do the same. “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly,” she wrote, “and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love” (“Pulpit and Press,” p. 3).

When we commit to stand guard over our own thoughts and consistently choose those that are aligned with good, we harness the kind of heroism that protects and preserves peace and fights for the collective welfare of our global neighbors.

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