I HEARD a news report one Christmas Eve that had an ironic twist. The radio broadcast consisted almost entirely of reports of fires, flood, famine, and world conflict. Then the program signed off with a message from Luke's Gospel: ``On earth peace, good will toward men.'' Sometimes it seems as though this is the story of human experience -- a spate of evil with only a faint glimmer of good as part of a distant past or nebulous future. But this discouraging view of life isn't the full story. Only what God, infinite good, creates is permanent, and He creates only what is spiritual and good.
This promise of good takes more solid form, however, when we're obedient to the Bible's instruction, found in Proverbs: ``Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.''
Is it really possible that an understanding of God can bring to humanity good instead of evil, love instead of hatred, or even peace instead of war? It's easy to be skeptical of this, to believe that trusting God to bring good is naivet or wishful thinking. But it is possible to turn discordant situations around through prayer, and the Bible gives ample evidence of this. The book of Acts, for example, records that the Apostle Peter was freed from prison as the result of the church's fervent prayer.
This assurance of God's love and protection isn't limited to Bible times, however, as I found when I was a reporter assigned to cover an inner-city riot. Frankly, on my first visit to the troubled community I expected angry, resentful, criminal activities. And that is just what I found. My fear and uncertainty showed in the story I wrote, which was disorganized and unfocused. I basically saw myself as a good person chronicling the chaotic activities of bad people. No wonder my editor rejecte d the story.
I was frustrated and disappointed. But at this point I began to see that my view of my fellowman needed to be reconsidered. I had been seeing man as sinful and out of control. From my study of Christian Science, however, I knew there must be much that I was missing. I knew from Christ Jesus' teachings and example that man is spiritual, created by God. ``Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.''
Turning to God in prayer certainly had a healing and cleansing effect on me. I found that I could expect good rather than evil, and I caught a glimpse of ``the perfect man,'' which brought a great change and considerable insight to bear on the situation. When I returned to the community the next time, I found many residents of the area dedicated to changing the conditions that had caused pent-up resentments and led to the outbreak of violence. Many of the same people who had been hostile and even threat ened me with physical harm on my previous visit were now willing to talk quite honestly about how they viewed their plight.
This time my story was balanced and objective. It was focused. It helped the reader understand a difficult situation and urged readers to look for solutions. The newspaper featured the story on page one.
Did the spiritual experience of one reporter immediately solve the problem of community conflict, resentment, and frustration? No, but progress in the community was evident. New coalitions of citizens came together in progressive ways. A better understanding was reached between this particular community and others. While it takes the enlightened work of many to achieve such transformations, the healing thought in just one individual does have a profound impact.
In a way, we are all reporters of the human situation. Every day, we evaluate -- and reevaluate -- events, circumstances, and relationships. Are we merely content to witness discord and believe it to be inevitable and permanent? Are we mired in the inconsistencies of materialism? Or do we look to God for solutions -- and raise thought out of the quagmire of inharmony and despair into hope and regeneration.
Christian Science can enable us to be perceptive chroniclers, responsible reporters who view the human condition not on a basis of wishful, pie-in-the-sky thinking but with a confident, spiritually-based expectation of good. And this starts with an understanding that man is spiritual and good as God's beloved child.
We are accurate in our reporting when we are able to put events into the perspective of genuine insight and healing resolution. This spiritual view is not a distortion of reality but leads to a clarification of what is true and lasting.
The good reporter -- and that should include us all -- is neither cold and uncaring nor rigidly judgmental, but is compassionate and a humanitarian, a doer of good, dedicated to serving mankind.
Whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
think on these things.