Building a just society through God’s love

A Christian Science perspective: Holding to everyone’s real identity as the reflection of divine Love is the basis for overcoming social injustice.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was 35 years old when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was the youngest person to have received it at that time. This grand achievement was in recognition of his efforts to end racial segregation and discrimination in the United States – entirely through nonviolent means. Dr. King’s inspiring message uplifted social consciousness and advanced his movement beyond civil rights to include human rights globally. Every January since 1986, the US has observed a national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

One marvels that despite the rage and violence King faced, he embraced nonviolence as the most effective way to end injustice. In his book “Stride Toward Freedom” he states that his commitment to nonviolence was in seeking not to “defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.” At another time, he said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

What precious building blocks these ideals are for making a kinder, gentler society. In considering how I might contribute to this kind of world, I’ve found it helpful to know that God is divine Love itself, and our true identity is God’s spiritual image and likeness, the very expression of Love. Injustice appears to be a normal part of life from a material sense of ourselves, but everyone’s real, spiritual nature is loving and lovable, like our divine creator’s. Of course, not all thoughts and actions we encounter are in line with this spiritual truth, but nobody is destined to do wrong, or incapable of reform.

I saw this when confronting social injustice in my work as a college professor and mentor-supervisor to student teachers in different school settings, where the inequity in educational resources between rich and poor school districts was startling. In one particular district, the children came from economically disadvantaged homes. I knew from experience that these children would require a level of instruction that was active and hands-on in order to engage them in learning the material.

At times, when I encountered teaching that didn’t engage the students or give them a fair chance, I prayed for God’s guidance. I trusted that the attributes of divine Love – justice, mercy, and wisdom – were in operation and would be manifested in the experience of the children in God’s own way.

One time I supervised a teacher who’d worked in schools with vast resources, and now was working with these students. His teaching was by rote and not engaging, and when I challenged him on this, I sensed that he had low expectations of this group of children. To me, this was an example of social injustice and educational inequality playing out in the classroom.

I prayed to see that each child was truly spiritual and complete as a child of God, reflecting divine Mind’s intelligence. I also knew that each individual is receptive to this truth. As I did so, I was guided to offer to help the teacher drastically adjust his lesson plans. As a result, he ended up consistently and joyfully applying his own creative concepts to his teaching, and the children happily responded. What a difference! The transformation was quite deep. After he finished this placement, he let me know how much this experience had helped him, and he even asked me for teaching references.

There is no doubt that since the 1960s, good progress has been made in reducing discrimination; however, there’s more to be done. No matter where in the world we live, or what our background is, we can let an understanding of God as Love and of everyone as Love’s reflection inspire our words and deeds. In this way, we can contribute to the work of building a just society as the norm for all.

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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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