IT is encouraging to hear of someone who has been faced with discrimination and yet has lived to smile at the shortsightedness of the discriminators. Lee Iacocca recalls in his autobiography an occasion when as a youngster he was ridiculed by other kids in eastern Pennsylvania because he enjoyed pizza pie. Writes Mr. Iacocca, ``Those guys grew up on shoofly pie, but I never once laughed at them for eating molasses pie for breakfast.... You don't see shoofly pie huts all over America today. But,'' he adds, ``to think that someday you'll be a trendsetter is no comfort for a nine-year-old kid.''1 There is little comic relief for anyone who suffers from prejudice. And when whole races suffer, progress may seem minute and moments of comfort seldom. On the other hand, heroism may become practically commonplace. A few months ago, in Soweto, a woman was asked if she was in despair because her husband and son had been imprisoned when they openly opposed discriminatory oppression. She answered, ``That is what we live for, to struggle for freedom.... I'm happy that my children understand why we are struggling.''2
There are millions of people around the globe in such straits. The attainment of common human rights seems so remote to them that their struggle to achieve these rights supplies their only immediate sense of purpose and hope. Such a piteous condition should inspire us to pray daily for the liberation of mankind from discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry, and also from the basic misconceptions that underlie and perpetuate these errors. Heroics alone, however stirring, will not accomplish the task, for victory involves much more than mere human vindication, sweet as that might seem. Christian discipleship is the way of salvation from prejudice because it is the way of salvation from materiality.
Christ Jesus evidently knew and respected the possibilities for progress that inhere in every individual, for he said, ``Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.''3 And his healing works prove that the individual capacity for perfection is more than a future hope; it is the eternal divine reality of man created in God's likeness.
What, then, does racism or any tendency to deny individual rights show us about human nature? Simply that people need to become more Christlike--to gain the understanding that the perfection of God necessitates the perfection and brotherhood of man. We also need to do the Christly healing works that prove the actuality of that perfection.
The humane social consciousness of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, was evidenced in her opposition to slavery. But the freedom from prejudice that shines through her writings stems from a higher source than her humanity. It is the outcome of the divine revelation that came to her, that man is incorporeal and immortal--perfect, because Godlike.
Spiritual awakening comes through the Christianly scientific recognition that God is flawlessly good, and man indissolubly at one with Him. Mrs. Eddy writes: ``With this recognition man could never separate himself from good, God; and he would necessarily entertain habitual love for his fellow-man. Only by admitting evil as a reality, and entering into a state of evil thoughts, can we in belief separate one man's interests from those of the whole human family, or thus attempt to separate Life from God.''4
In Christ, the spiritual manhood that Jesus exemplified, man is found to be an infinite, compound idea, complete and undivided because indivisible. The Bible asks, ``Is Christ divided?''5 And almost as a direct answer for our own time, we read, ``There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.''6
Through Christ, the human family learns how to demonstrate unity and harmony. Christ shows us that imperfection is not ingrained, that differences are never irreconcilable, and that conflict can always be resolved.
1Iacocca: An Autobiography (New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1984), p. 14. 2The New York Times, July 2, 1986. 3Matthew 5:48. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 18. 5I Corinthians 1:13. 6Colossians 3:11. This article is a condensation of an editorial that appears in the January 12, 1987 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. DAILY BIBLE VERSE:Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.