Something we can all do to defuse violence

A Christian Science perspective: Everyone is naturally inclined to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

What stopped Marcus from killing someone was learning that he was a child of God.

Marcus (not his real name) was an inmate in a Pennsylvania jail when my friend Dave met him. Dave was there as a representative of the local Church of Christ, Scientist, to give a ministerial talk. The crux of what he told them dealt with gaining a better understanding of man’s true existence as a creation of the Divine, naturally inclined to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, as the Bible often states (see for example Leviticus 19:18 and Galatians 5:14).

Dave told me: “After my talk, Marcus, a great big guy, came up to me and said, ‘Man, you really messed me up. You were talking about what it means to be a child of God. That’s who I really am.’ Then he said, ‘I want to tell you, before this talk, they brought a guy into the jail, and he and I have had this thing going on out on the street back and forth, and I said to myself, I’m going to kill him. Today’s the day. I don’t care what happens to me, we’re going to end this thing, right here, right now.’ ”

All Dave could do was keep listening.

“He said, ‘And then, for some reason, I decided to come hear this stupid talk. And now I’ve got to go back to my cell, and I’ve got to think about myself as a child of God and what that means, and I’ve got to think about him that way too, don’t I?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you do.’ By this time, tears were streaming down his face. He gave me a big bear hug and said, ‘Thanks for messing me up, man.’ ”

Would that more people could be “messed up” like this, open to the transformative influence of the Christ – “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness,” as Christian Science discoverer Mary Baker Eddy puts it (“Science and Health with Key the Scriptures,” p. 332) – reminding us of our eternal oneness with God, good. By accepting this divinely inspired view of ourselves, reformation can begin.

The truth is, there are probably a lot more people open to this sort of transformation than we think. Not that you could just walk into your local prison, tell everyone they’re a child of God, and hope for the best. But when spoken with the conviction that comes from truly seeing individuals being so much more than what their rap sheet, their family history, or even their demoralized opinion of themselves may suggest, this spiritual idea of them can have a huge impact.

This isn’t always easy. It is, however, essential if we are to have any hope of reducing violence in our communities – an effort made easier as we’re both receptive and responsive to the love that God, divine Love itself, has given us to express and to see expressed in others.

Adapted from an article originally published at Communities Digital News, Sept. 26, 2016.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

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.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Something we can all do to defuse violence
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today