Innocence that dissolves racism

“Innocence” can suggest vulnerability when dealing with evils like racism. But there’s a spiritual take on this quality that shows how it can touch a hardened heart – as a young white woman witnessed when threatened with punishment for helping black children.

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As I consider recent tragic events in my home state of Georgia and in Minnesota that have become global headlines, I find hope in these words by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science: “The necessity for uplifting the race is father to the fact that Mind can do it; for Mind can impart purity instead of impurity, strength instead of weakness, and health instead of disease” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 371).

I experienced the healing, purifying power of God, divine Mind, firsthand as a teenager in the 1960s, when I worked in a kindergarten program for rural black children. One evening I was at my friend’s house when her dad called an after-dinner meeting with us in the living room, which always meant he was upset with one of us, and this time it was me. He said he had heard about the work I was doing, and that I had been seen holding one of the children’s hands while crossing the street and seen with another of the children sitting in my lap. He felt these loving actions merited the harsh retribution of corporal punishment.

He asked, “Do you deny this?” Instead of immediately admitting to the facts, I reached out quickly to God as an ever-present help in trouble (see Psalms 46:1). I thought about the Bible story of Daniel, who was thrown into a lions’ den for worshipping God instead of the king. The following morning, the king went to see if God had kept Daniel safe. Daniel responded, “God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (Daniel 6:22).

It seemed to me that Daniel expected the king to perceive his innocence. And he did. But this meant the king must have had an innate sense of innocence himself, in order to discern it in another. Christian Science explains that as God’s children, the spiritual expression of divine purity and goodness, we each have innocence as part of our very nature.

So fundamentally, the king was a child of God, and the pull to wrongdoing was an imposition upon the king’s true, spiritual nature (and he hadn’t wanted to put Daniel in the lions’ den in the first place, but was tricked into it). God, divine Love, is the only legitimate cause. Only this Love can truly act and prevail. Man as God made him is not an evil mortal but innocent, free from all wrongdoing.

It became so clear to me that the only true power and motivator is God, divine Love, who could not let any of His children hate or harm others. In an article called “Love,” Mrs. Eddy writes: “What a word! I am in awe before it. Over what worlds on worlds it hath range and is sovereign! the underived, the incomparable, the infinite All of good, the alone God, is Love” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 249-250).

I replied to my friend’s dad: “God loves that little boy. Why don’t you?” That seemed to inflame his anger even further, and then I added, “God loves you too, and you must love all whom God loves.”

I was surprised at the reaction. He threw down the belt he’d been holding, hugged me, and began sobbing. When he regained control of himself, he stood up and said, “You girls get out of here and go do whatever it is you have to do.” That was the end of it.

It is the mistaken belief that man is fundamentally material and subject to a carnal mind that would pull us toward hating, belittling, or harming another. Innocence is native to man and woman as God created them, in His spiritual image, capable of only good and free from ill will, hate, self-righteousness, or self-importance.

The book of Revelation refers to a Lamb and to a dragon that wars against innocence. The Lamb represents Christ, Truth, which is present with everyone to overrule the seeming validity of the carnal mind. We can all bear witness to the power and presence of the Christ, revealing everyone’s true nature as spiritual, flawless, the image of Love, as God has made us.

“Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error,” Science and Health explains (p. 568). What a powerful statement. As we take a stand for the spiritual innocence that’s native to all, we will witness more and more the all-powerful love of divine Mind “uplifting the race.”

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