Rooting out bias and suspicion

An article in today’s Monitor Daily points to the idea that it’s become all too common for people to assume they know what someone thinks based on what organizations they belong to. Here’s an article that explores how we can let love and wisdom, rather than stereotypes and assumptions, guide our interactions with others.

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Sometimes political discussions center on perceived differences between races and religions, or between people of different social, political, or economic status, in ways that can bring a rising tide of suspicion toward each other. For instance, I recall a time when I asked a stranger for directions and information, and I noticed that we initially exchanged suspicious glances at each other before I began speaking. I was startled by that all-too-common temptation to judge others by differences such as race, age, and gender.

An impulse to be suspicious of others in this way is contrary to what my study of Christian Science has taught me about our real, spiritual nature as children of God. In fact, prior to this situation I had been putting a great deal more effort into appreciating the natural bond of brotherhood and sisterhood we all share. For me, that meant watching how I thought and acted toward others, and not to make snap judgments that may be unfair.

Recognizing that this moment was an important opportunity to live what I had been praying to understand better, I silently began to cherish the spiritual fact that we all have the same Father, God. As the Bible explains, there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6). I felt inspired by that divine truth.

Getting beyond bias and suspicion means appreciating others as God created and sees them. It’s a lesson that is brought out in the Bible’s book of Samuel. Searching for the person the Lord would anoint as king, Samuel came to understand that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). I saw that I had to look both on, and from, the heart in order to see the true identity we have from God.

The best example of how to do this was Christ Jesus. Jesus looked at others with spiritual love, derived from God, divine Love itself, and healed them of sickness; he understood man as created by God to be spiritual, good, and pure, and reformed those engaged in sinful behavior. His thoughts and actions were so united to God that he could prove the power of divinely impelled love over hate and fear. His example could not be a more powerful help to us today.

My initial moment of suspicion quickly dissolved. My conversation with the man was wonderfully full of goodwill and even humor. If I had thought of that person solely in terms of physical attributes, such as race, age, and gender, it would have clouded my view; I would have missed out on seeing his kindness, intelligence, and spontaneous joy – divinely rooted qualities – in the way he uniquely expressed them.

That experience continues to remind me not to be taken in, even for an instant, by the temptation to define and distrust one another based on appearances, and also reminds me not to be swayed by public opinion.

What Jesus showed us is the spirit of Christ – the healing presence and power of God that is eternally with us. He taught the truth of our identity as children of God that, when cherished and understood, naturally moves us to act with love toward each other; it counteracts and dissolves bias and unmerited suspicion; it unifies us. The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explains: “With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 469-470).

The spiritual truth that we are all of one God and Father provides a solid basis for letting go of biases and suspicion. As Jesus proved in healing the sick and sinning, it is this spiritual view of each other that engenders love and wisdom, and that can lift even the most fearful and hardened hearts.

Previously published in the Christian Science Perspective column, Dec. 9, 2016.

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