Can we love our political opponent, too?

A Christian Science perspective: A spiritual view of man counters fear and hate.

Have you ever thought the negative qualities of politicians you might be tempted to hate aren’t actually part of who they really are?

And no, this isn’t just about the fact that much of what we think we know about political candidates, pro or con, might be spin.

It’s about something more profound. It’s about the spiritual fact that every individual we can think of, whether we know them personally or by dint of media coverage, is in reality spiritual and created by God, the source of all good (see Psalms 100:3). We are all created to express the divine nature – as God’s very own spiritual reflection.

So because that’s what truly exists, then whatever doesn’t exemplify this identity – even in someone we might be tempted to fear or hate – is not who they really are as sons or daughters of God. Likewise, any view we may have of ourselves as people who are prone to get provoked, riled up, or even filled with hatred toward another person who holds views different from our own, is not really who we are, either.

That doesn’t mean wrong behavior should be condoned or resigned to. Far from it. But it means we can challenge the fear of being subject to events that seem to be beyond our control; we can do this through prayer that sees the temptation to fear or hate as the silent whispering of what could be called the greatest spin agent of them all: the mentality that perceives life and mind as inevitably prone to evil as well as good.

The Bible calls this mentality “the carnal mind,” and its every intimation that evil is more powerful than good has to be “spin” because the Scriptures promise us, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

We can always pray to see the continuing presence and power of the good that God always beholds. In doing so we can begin to discern that evil doesn’t really have the power it may seem to.

I saw this when dealing with someone whose actions deeply distressed me. Reaching for the recognition that they, too, were God’s creation – made to glorify Deity’s goodness – seemed really hard.

Yet as I persisted in praying, a thought came to me that surprised me. It was that my assumptions of the attitude behind this person’s behavior might be a mistaken reading of what they actually thought.

My efforts to heal the situation were based on a central observation concerning Christ Jesus in the teachings of Christian Science: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals” (Mary Baker Eddy, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 476-477).

The Savior’s extraordinary record of healing proved that holding a view of anyone as being anything other than God’s harmless, spiritual creation is actually a mistaken belief about them. I’d glimpsed the truth of this many times before and had seen situations change for the better as a result of doing so. But what I suddenly saw so clearly was that I was being tempted to cling to a material view of this person’s identity instead of perceiving and loving his God-created, spiritual individuality. I saw my need was to disbelieve this false sense of him. As I humbly strove to do so, my fear and resentment lessened and the situation was soon resolved.

Isn’t this an approach we can take in our view of the political arena, too? Rather than getting drawn into hating a candidate we may disagree with, we can identify whatever would seem to speak to us of the existence of an unspiritual man or woman, and challenge our acceptance of the presence or power of qualities and characteristics that aren’t divinely derived or supported.

At the back of fear and hatred is the assumption that we’re random products of a random universe in which evil can threaten us. Instead, we can stand in the conviction of the primacy of good – as preached and proved by Christ Jesus. In his ultimate triumph – his post-crucifixion resurrection and ascension – the great healer proved that hate and fear can be overcome. They are never Godly qualities; God has, and asserts, all power.

So we need not get drawn into fearing or voicing the carnal mind’s spin of anyone as being hateworthy. Whomever we feel led to cast a ballot for in any election, anywhere in the world, we can prayerfully persist in our commitment to perceive the spiritual view of others. In this way our words and deeds can stand as a vote against the spread of hatred and fear.

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