Overcoming prejudice

From the April 17, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. 

Originally published in the April 2017 French edition of The Herald of Christian Science.

I live in the Democratic Republic of Congo and would like to share a beautiful experience I had on a trip I was taking for the first time. After landing in Geneva, Switzerland, I needed to continue on to a different town, where friends were waiting for me.

I was already on the train when I realized that my phone conversation with my friend was going to be interrupted for lack of minutes. It was difficult for me to buy more minutes right away, and I was afraid of getting lost without my friend’s directions. 

On the train, there were black Africans a little bit away on my left and white people next to me on my right. It seemed obvious to me that I would have to ask someone for assistance. As I was about to ask the person sitting next to me for her help, a very negative thought with regard to myself, the concept of race, and the help I needed suddenly went through my mind: I thought that it would be useless to solicit assistance from the person next to me, simply because her skin was white. 

For no good reason at all, I imagined a scene where she would start to denigrate me, seeing me as a “little black boy” lost in the middle of Switzerland. I felt completely unable to communicate with her. It was as if a mental wall without any foundation had been set up all of a sudden in front of me, and it stopped me from doing anything! 

After a few minutes of confusion, I regrouped and started asking myself a lot of questions: Who am I? Who are the whites? Who are the blacks? Is our skin color really stopping us from expressing ourselves? Am I simply a mortal defined by my race? I started to pray, as Christian Science has taught me, in order to find answers to these questions. 

I became conscious of my spiritual identity as a child of God, created in the image and likeness of God. Using the generic term "man," which refers to every man, woman, and child, Mary Baker Eddy says in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" : “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements.… He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; …” (p. 475). 

That defined what I was, and what we all are – no more, no less. This man does not belong to a limited material race! He is free, happy, and always conscious of his spiritual identity, because he is constituted by God, Spirit, whom he reflects. 

Skin color is not the substance of man; it does not define him. It’s at best a human symbol of the spiritual beauty that originates from God. I could then cherish the idea that skin was unable at any moment to become an obstacle and to keep us from expressing spiritual qualities. 

I saw the mask of prejudice falling before the joy and freedom of appreciating man, not as a mortal, but as a reflection of God.

Very naturally, after prayerfully correcting this malignant suggestion regarding myself and, therefore, my neighbor, I felt completely free to explain my predicament to the young white lady sitting next to me. I asked her if I could use her cellphone in order to call my friend. 

I don’t know how to describe the eagerness and the compassion with which the young lady lent me her phone. I only wanted to make a call for a few seconds or send a text, but she insisted that I use her phone as many times as would be necessary. To me, this was a true healing. I saw the mask of prejudice falling before the joy and freedom of appreciating man, not as a mortal, but as a reflection of God.

The young lady held in her hands a book dealing with the mind-body connection. It mentioned God, too. To my great delight, she talked to me of what she understood about God. Seeing her interest, I shared with her a few fundamental points regarding Christian Science and introduced her to "The Herald of Christian Science," French Edition, and the French translation of Science and Health. 

Right away, she said she would like to have her own copy. I showed her where to find Christian Science Reading Rooms in the Herald directory, as well as the online shop that can be reached through JSH-Online.com and ChristianScience.com. A month later, she sent me an email to let me know that she had just ordered her first copy of Science and Health in French. 

I’m so grateful for this experience, which proves how important it is to identify oneself correctly in order to defeat prejudice and beliefs of all kinds attempting to limit the activity of the Christ in human consciousness. We see each other not as miserable sinners, but as God’s beloved children, and have a better appreciation of our neighbor. 

I think this way of seeing spiritually is a solid basis on which to establish peace on earth. We pay too much attention to what’s being said about each other and to labels attached to certain groups of people. The study of Christian Science helps us understand that all this has nothing to do with man created by God. 

I sometimes reflect with great care on what Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health on page 563: “Human sense may well marvel at discord, while, to a diviner sense, harmony is the real and discord the unreal. We may well be astonished at sin, sickness, and death. We may well be perplexed at human fear; and still more astounded at hatred, which lifts its hydra head, showing its horns in the many inventions of evil. But why should we stand aghast at nothingness?” While we can pray sincerely and deeply about the issue of prejudice, there is no need to “stand aghast” at prejudice and other mental montages built against nations, peoples, or particular groups. 

My daily work consists in affirming the truths that I already know about God, His nature, and His relation to each one of us. I am then ready to establish in my thought the reign, or supreme government, of divine Truth, Life, and Love, which takes down the mask of prejudice and brings healing. 

I had a wonderful time during my stay in Switzerland and built new friendships that have developed over the years.

Originally published in the April 2017 French edition of The Herald of Christian Science.

This article was adapted from an article in the April 10, 2017, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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