I don’t have any racist thoughts ... do I?

Caught off guard by the reflex fear he felt when a Black man approached him on the side of the road, a white man realized he could do better when it came to loving his neighbor. He found a powerful starting point in the idea that we are all God’s children, created to express harmony and love. It’s a message we can all take to heart as Juneteenth approaches – and every day.

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“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.”

That powerful statement is from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science (pp. 469-470). I had read it countless times, and thought I was taking to heart this idea that as God’s children we are all one family. But sometimes racist thoughts are so subtle we don’t even realize we have them until something happens to wake us up to the need to deal with them.

My own perception that I am a white man without any racist thoughts was called into question by the reflex fear I felt one night when my wife and I exited the highway with a flat tire and a large Black man pulled up right behind us, got out of his car, and came over to us.

A few minutes later, all I was feeling was immense gratitude. After I’d cautiously rolled down the window and hesitantly gotten out of the car, the man had taken the spare tire and jack out of my trunk, changed the tire, and refused to allow me to pay him for his kindness. He said he was brought up to help people in trouble whenever he could.

His actions made me think of the prophet Malachi’s profound questions in the Bible: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10).

The passage quoted at the beginning of this article elucidates this concept. It points to this fundamental teaching of Christian Science: that God, Spirit, is the one and only source and creator. With Spirit as our divine Parent, our true nature is therefore spiritual, not material. God’s children are not divided by physical attributes, forever competing against each other for good. Divine Spirit is not a race or a color. The sons and daughters of God’s creating are the pure spiritual reflection of divine light.

This spiritual identity includes intelligence, strength, and pure goodness, without a single element of inharmony or fear. And all of God’s children are immeasurably valued and cared for. There is no competition for God’s love, which is infinite and all-inclusive.

These spiritual facts offer a strong basis for bringing harmony, peace, and joy to our interactions with people of all races and backgrounds. But it’s not enough to merely acknowledge our spiritual unity with one another. We can’t just talk the talk – we’ve got to walk the walk. Christ Jesus didn’t just preach the good news of our inseparable relation to God; he demonstrated it through his healing work. As the Bible says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). The man who changed my tire demonstrated a level of love for his fellow man that caused me to recognize I could do better.

As we make the effort to see others the way God sees them, we bring a spirit of peace, brotherhood, and freedom from fear to our interactions. I still have some things to learn. But I’m striving to understand, and more faithfully think and act consistently with, this profound statement on the basis and potential of loving our neighbors as ourselves: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates ... whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes;...” (Science and Health, p. 340).

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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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