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Stop the Killing

RECENTLY in my home city there were two murders on the same day. The motives were unknown. In fact the crimes seemed even more senseless than usual: an elderly man was found shot in his home; another man was found murdered beside a roadway. This is too typical of news headlines anywhere in the world. But despite the sad familiarity of such events, my heart cries out, Stop it! Violence is an exploding imposition on society, insisting on our attention. And, people all too often end up thinking that the way to deal with someone who gets in their way or looks different is to attack. It isn't.

I find myself yearning for my prayers to be as powerful as my hopes for healing. And I tell myself I will keep working at it until I can see that my prayer is making a difference. There's more impetus for healing, however, than just my prayer and my hope. There is a great community of hope and prayer behind the words we find in Exodus "Thou shalt not kill.'' There are brave, moral, good people in our neighborhoods, in community service, in law and public safety work whose lives are devoted to the fu lfillment of the goal of that Old Testament Commandment. Our prayers can strengthen their efforts.

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Through prayer we learn that God did not create man to be a murderer or a victim. Acting in anger, through neglect, in ignorance, or by whim denies man's genuine nature. Man is, in reality, God's creation. And man is made in God's likeness 209>made in His image 209>spiritual and good. Out of our prayer grows a reverence for God and a love for His Son, Christ Jesus, that leads to a holier reverence for life and an unshakable love for all of God's children.

At this Easter season the whole Christian world turns in celebration to the life of Christ Jesus who in his resurrection literally overcame homicide. Jesus' resurrection is the most powerful example we have of how the killing can be ended. In the very throes of his crucifixion Jesus said of those who crucified him, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.''

The waste of life in the streets of our cities has no place or justification. If humanity is to survive, we need to strive for spiritual maturity that will make aggression obsolete. Killing on any scale is not an element of progress. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, "Killing men is not consonant with the higher law whereby wrong and injustice are righted and exterminated.''

Over the past year we have watched startling shifts in political and international relations; we have seen remarkable instances of wrong righted and injustice terminated. Political freedom is now on the ascendancy in many parts of the world. Human rights are more honored. There is a long path yet to be trod, but there are signs that mankind's hopes and prayers are having a positive effect on humanity's progress.

The root causes of conflict aren't new, as we see from the early example of the Bible story of jealousy leading Cain to kill Abel. Yet Christ Jesus overcame death on the practical strength of forgiveness and unquenchable spiritual love. He showed us that it is possible to "forgive them.'' He proved by his example the blessings of living so close to God that murder could not end his life or his mission. At this Easter time, and each day, a loving, practical, and street-wise commemoration of the birth and life and resurrection of Christ Jesus would be to begin to break down the hatred and callousness that lead to violence and murder, by loving and forgiving one another--as Jesus asked us to do.

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