It was a beautiful sunny morning when I went to meet some friends for breakfast at a restaurant in a neighboring town.
Shortly after I arrived at the restaurant, the conversation turned to politics. Before long my friends and I were engaged in a heated discussion. Some of the guys became loud and started using offensive language to make their point; they had very little tolerance for other opinions. Although these were people I had known and worked with for many years and I knew them to be candid, I was still taken aback by their aggressiveness. In fact, I was so embarrassed by the tone of the conversation, I considered getting up and leaving.
Political discourse today can be harsh, to say the least. In some cases, it has led to violence between those who hold differing opinions. Too often we fall into choosing a particular side of a debate and then react with frustration or anger if the other side wins.
Right there during that breakfast, I began to think more deeply about this atmosphere of divisiveness and what I could do to contribute to a fuller sense of unity. Trying to temper that morning’s heated discussion with words would have been inadequate. The situation illustrated clearly to me that the complexity of various issues often inflames emotions and creates feelings of powerlessness.
However, I thought of something I’d learned from studying Christian Science: that another name for God is Mind and that this one divine Mind is the true governor of all – including each of us, God’s spiritual creation. I’ve found that when there’s conflict, the path to reconciliation begins with acknowledging everyone’s relation to God, which helps us find a sense of unity with one another. There is no disunity, no room for factions, in this Mind, which created us as its own harmonious expression, the sons and daughters of God.
These ideas are a powerful basis for not getting drawn into the divisive political atmosphere so prevalent today. It seems from all that we read, hear, and see that some groups or factions within society want to fuel conflict and hatred regardless of the issue. Yet I’ve found hope in the Bible, which teaches that “God is love” (I John 4:8) and that we must “love one another,” as Christ Jesus said (John 13:34). Through Christian Science I’ve learned that it is natural to love because our true nature is loving, expressed in qualities such as patience, respect, and kindness – qualities of limitless divine Love that we include as God’s children.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in her book “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896”: “… Love is the Principle of unity, the basis of all right thinking and acting; it fulfils the law. We see eye to eye and know as we are known, reciprocate kindness and work wisely, in proportion as we love” (p. 117). Animosity and hatred cannot exist within an atmosphere where divine Love is expressed, since Love is supremely powerful and always present. In view of this, the belief that hatred can extinguish love makes as much sense as thinking that darkness can prevent the light of day from appearing. It’s just not possible! As a poem by Mrs. Eddy explains, “Love hath one race, one realm, one power” (“Poems,” p. 22).
The next time I met the same group of friends for breakfast, we had a great conversation. We continue to meet fairly regularly, and on the occasions when the conversation turns to politics, we talk in a much more civil manner.
We can all play a role in addressing divisiveness, acknowledging that we are united in God’s love and putting that into practice in our own daily lives.
Adapted from an article published in the April 30, 2018, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.