WHEN personal prejudices are challenged, there is very often a reaction, then a reaction to the reaction -- which sets off a chain reaction. Ideally, no one should unthinkingly react at all. But human beings have a tendency to hold personal prejudices and a habit of reacting with resentment when these prejudices are challenged. Reacting to resentment with our own resentment doesn't solve anything. Obviously, what we have to do is to ensure that we do not respond to the initial reaction. But that may be easier to say than to do. So how can we do it?
We can start with God and with an understanding that man is made in God's likeness. From the Bible we learn that God is Spirit and that man -- the real man, made in God's image -- is spiritual, not material. Our true nature is therefore responsive -- responsive to God, responsive to all that is good and true. Our true nature is not reactive.
By turning to God and thinking and living in accord with the nature of God -- and therefore in accord with our own true, spiritual nature -- we embody Godlike qualities more fully. We shed reactive elements such as anger, hate, fear, self-righteousness, and learn to respond instead with compassion, love, assurance, tolerance. We become more stable, more calm, more kindly.
Christ Jesus gave the supreme example of how to be spiritually responsive to God, and how not to react. On the cross in the midst of those intent on killing him, he was able to say with compassion, ``Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.''1
Jesus' revelation of Christianity stirred people's thinking. His healing works brought reaction -- he was even accused of healing by demonic power. But Jesus himself did not react to the reaction. Because he was obedient only to God, he loved when others were hating; he was calm when others were caught up in turmoil. He maintained his Godlikeness in every aspect of his life. And by his steadfast adherence to God, to absolute Truth and Love, Jesus showed all mankind the way to deal with reaction.
We have to know ourselves spiritually -- know that we are the dearly-loved children of God, the loved and loving expression of divine Love -- and to see everyone in the same light. We have to trust God, knowing that God brings peace to troubled situations.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.''2
My own experience as a new immigrant in a country half a world away from my native land has taught me many lessons. It has helped me to understand better the reactions all pioneering people face. And overcoming such reactions has helped me learn to love more.
There is no need to fear reaction. It is not a real power. Real power is the power of God, and God is Love. ``No power can withstand divine Love,''3 Mrs. Eddy writes.
As we respond with love, with the love we reflect from our creator, God, and embrace all mankind in that love, we are praying a prayer that makes all reaction outdated and powerless.
1Luke 23:34. 2Science and Health, p. 571. 3Ibid., p. 224.