Refining the conversation through love
A Christian Science perspective: Political tirades in our own backyard can be redeemed.
“Don’t you think it would make a difference if we all just loved each other more?” That was my gentle question to a friend this past summer.
The backstory is that the bandwagon of political hate and outrage so prevalent right now had made its way to my little corner of the world in the most tranquil spot I know: my neighborhood swimming pool.
For many years, my fellow swimmers and I have enjoyed interesting conversations and camaraderie. This year, though, while the friendships were as lovely as ever, the discussions were infiltrated with contempt about politics. Sharp criticism, hatred, and even speculation about the party affiliations and viewpoints of fellow community members found their way to “the island,” as we like to call it – and it saddened me to see my friends caught up in such rancor.
I had been praying about how I might be able to contribute to the concord the world so desperately needs, starting with our small scenario. I certainly valued what others had to say but felt that dialogue based on animosity was not going to be productive. What I knew to be constructive was the Christ, the love of God that Jesus exemplified, which epitomizes brotherly kindness and promotes peace on earth.
Throughout his healing ministry, Jesus taught his followers to “love one another” and “have peace one with another” (John 15:17 and Mark 9:50, respectively). He showed that this love, which comes from God, is inherent to our being as children of God. And he taught that all individuals are to be valued and respected, without exception, by recognizing their divinely bestowed innocence.
As a Christian Scientist, I have come to learn that following Jesus’ command to love in this way brings not only the most satisfaction but also concrete healing. In small and big things, I’ve found that when my thoughts and actions are increasingly aware of God as all-powerful divine Love, the effect is more joyful, purposeful, and restorative.
So there I was, sitting down with everyone after a swim and listening to the most heated rant of the season. My heart went out to my outspoken friend who was so upset. I knew that hostility was not part of her, or anyone’s, identity as God’s child. I also knew our God-given spiritual nature is tender and compassionate, pure and perfect. In spite of what was being said, the spiritual fact was that each of us is really inherently thoughtful, caring, kind, and understanding.
I listened for God’s guidance on how to respond. I was then led to ask my question. At first, my friend didn’t hear me over her tirade, so I asked it again, and then once more: “Don’t you think it would make a difference if we all just loved each other more?” That time she heard me, quieted down, and softly responded, “Yes, I guess it would.” I noticed that others at the table were listening too. That question silenced the turmoil, and I didn’t hear another hateful or reactionary remark the rest of the summer.
The harmonious Principle of divine Love’s healing power is something we can always turn to and express to improve whatever conversation or situation we are in. As Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, encourages, we can make “our words golden rays in the sunlight of our deeds,” (“Christian Healing,” p. 19) and take heart in their healing effect.