I grew up in a country where there were more than 10 different cultures, and many years ago the government believed that the best way forward was in separate development for these many cultures and races. They named this “apartheid” or “separateness.”
Although I did not agree with this system of government, it was only when I visited London that I became aware of just how adjusted I had become to this culture. I learned that I was doing things thoughtlessly without even realizing what I was doing.
I remember a particular evening well. It was snowing and bitterly cold, and my heart went out to a technician who was on his way to fix my TV. I decided I would give him a hot drink on his arrival. But when I opened the door, I saw a black technician smiling happily at me. I welcomed him in, and he duly started fixing the TV. My thoughts were racing. I was experiencing deep conflict because I thought I couldn’t offer him that warm drink. I did not have a cup for him to use – because he was black.
He did a wonderful job and fixed the TV. I thanked him and shook his hand, and he disappeared into the night.
What had I just done? Of course I had cups! As I questioned my behavior, I realized that as a child I had seen apartheid practiced in every aspect of life, even down to the fact that the white workers got special cups and the black workers got other cups. I was shocked that I had unconsciously let this practice enter my own thoughts and actions.
I decided to be alert from that moment on to every thought I entertained about my fellow countrymen and women. I had learned in Christian Science that we are each the loved child of God, who is Love. So it’s actually intuitive for us to practice this commandment that Christ Jesus gave us: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
On my return to my home country, I strove to be loving toward all those I came into contact with, regardless of race. I never again had separate cups served. Above all, no longer did I feel helpless in the face of apartheid. I saw that nothing could stop me from expressing love for God and His spiritual creation, made in His image and likeness. Whenever I met people, I would identify and appreciate the spiritual qualities they expressed, such as kindness, helpfulness, and intelligence. In this way, I started to love all of God’s children in the same way Jesus loved – reflecting how God, divine Love, loves each one of us.
One day, for work, I was scheduled to meet with a group of black university students in one of the townships. However, on the eve of the meeting, I heard on the news that there were going to be major uprisings and protests. White people were advised not to enter any township, as it would be extremely dangerous.
As I often do when I am seeking a sense of inspired guidance, I turned to the Bible, and I read in Ephesians, “Now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (5:8). This was my answer. Light includes all colors! I realized that color in matter often seems to cause division, but color in divine Soul – another name I’ve learned for God – brings great joy, beauty, and unity. God’s creation reflects the fullness of Soul – God’s rainbow of qualities – in myriad individual ways.
I felt great peace come over me. I drove into the township the next day, and all I could see were children of light. I met only love, kindness, beauty, and thoughtfulness. The meeting with the students included no barriers at all. There was no restriction between us because of color, age, any belief of inferiority or superiority, or different tribes and cultures present.
My change of thought and action enabled me not only to find my freedom and to feel loved by God but also to see this freedom and love as belonging naturally to everyone. Together we can all echo the Bible in saying, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalms 139:14). We are one with our true source, God, and His creation. Policies and collective prejudices cannot affect our own freedom to love our neighbors as ourselves and as Christ Jesus loved us!
Adapted from an article published in the June 25, 2018, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.