A call for compassion

A Christian Science perspective: Cyberscolding and abusive condoning don’t have to be the norm of public opinion.

Have you noticed there seems to be an increasingly strident, hypercritical, unforgiving tone in public discourse? Cyberscolding and societal outrage at perceived transgressions in any degree and of every flavor feel like the norm. How can we function and coexist in a national and global community in which we seem increasingly unable to find common language and common ground for communication with one another?

This is a call for compassion. Compassion comes from a mental place of humility and meekness. It comes from spiritual maturity and grace. All of these qualities originate in divine Love, or God; so we include them in our nature, and can express them because we are God’s children, the expression of God’s being. Compassion does not condone evil or cooperate with it; rather, compassion lifts us out of evil and brings others out, too.

It takes spiritual maturity not to get caught up in the hyperactivity of a snippy “gotcha” mentality. This maturity can be developed in us now through spiritual growth – through understanding that all are part of God’s spiritual creation, and therefore under His harmonious and complete control.

By his example and teachings, Christ Jesus showed us what true compassion is. Through his understanding of his (and everyone’s) unity with our heavenly Father – who is divine Principle, Love – he was able to respond to any volatile situation calmly and prayerfully, motivated by a deep desire to heal. His heart and prayers went out to any suffering or self-righteous individual in need of healing or redemption.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper, talks of Jesus’ compassion and meekness. She calls him “the meekest man on earth” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 163).

When I looked up the word “meek,” I was astonished to find that the first definition given in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary is “enduring injury without resentment.” When we think of the life of Christ Jesus, that fits perfectly, doesn’t it? Even on the cross he could say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Once a group of religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman who was caught in the act of committing adultery (see John 8:1-11). They asked whether she should be stoned according to their laws. After some silence, Jesus asked the gathering crowd to consider who among them had never made a mistake. Self-examination shamed the accusers; they ceased their condemnation of her, and one by one they left until Jesus and the woman were alone. Then, with compassion, he said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Jesus’ admonition “sin no more” explained that reformation is a requirement for forgiveness, but he also taught and illustrated that each individual has the same opportunity for reformation and progress.

Each of us is accountable for our actions. But anger and outrage cannot bring healing. Jesus could not have brought healing to this situation if he hadn’t first felt compassion for the woman. Mrs. Eddy writes regarding Jesus: “Through the magnitude of his human life, he demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love.” Then she adds the question, “Who is ready to follow his teaching and example?” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” p. 54). Wouldn’t it be a step in the right direction to accept that individuals can learn from their mistakes, and then give them the mental space to do so without piling on rash condemnation or virtual "cyber stoning”?

Mrs. Eddy gave this wise counsel to her students: “Let us serve instead of rule, knock instead of push at the door of human hearts, and allow to each and every one the same rights and privileges that we claim for ourselves” (“Miscellaneous Writings,” p. 303).

We each can attain more of that same Christly consciousness Jesus exemplified – by learning more about our true nature. Man is not a natural sinner; rather, he is naturally good because he was made by God, good (see Genesis 1:31). The most helpful and productive thing for us to do in the face of mistakes – our own or another’s – is to remember this true Godlike nature we each have and are capable of expressing.

Being filled with love for God and His creation, we will be able to “serve instead of rule, knock instead of push at the door of human hearts.” This will support honest correction and 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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