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When People Are Different

(Written especially for young people)

ALL of us know people who don't fit the usual mold. There are all kinds of differences! And sometimes we find it hard to see good in people who don't look or act just the way we do. How can we get along with them?

One thing I've found useful is to do a ``spiritual inventory.'' An inventory is simply making a list of what you have or what you see. You could do an inventory of what's in your room, for example, or of your toys. A spiritual inventory is like that, but it goes much deeper than listing material objects.

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Christ Jesus taught that man is spiritual. This doesn't mean that we're ghosts, but that we are made of qualities, or ideas, instead of matter. These qualities are what we truly are, and they are always good. They include love, intelligence, purity, tenderness, patience, strength, truthfulness. There are many more, and you can find out about them in the Bible, especially in the life of Christ Jesus, and in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science.

To discover our own spiritual nature, we have to look deeper than the color of our skin, the amount of money our parents have, or other outward things. As Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health: ``Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause'' (p. 313).

When we look under the surface, we have a much better idea of how to get along with those who are different in some way. Instead of looking on the ``outside'' at their skin color, fatness or thinness, wealth or poverty, we can dive deeper! This is where the ``spiritual inventory'' I spoke of earlier comes in.

You might practice on yourself first. Write down all the good qualities you have. Don't write down anything material--like ``wonderful blue eyes,'' for example. But if you love your parents and friends, you can write down ``love'' as one of the qualities. Are you truthful? Then write that one down. And so forth.

Then as you look at people who are different, try to see beyond how they seem outwardly and find who they really are. Skin color doesn't determine if someone is good or bad. Instead, it's how the person thinks and feels inside. Nice clothes are good to have, but the person who doesn't have them isn't less intelligent, kind, or good just for that reason.

Doing a spiritual inventory can be fun! If you have trouble getting started on people you don't like, how about your friends? What qualities does your best friend have, for instance? Among them might be joy or kindness or honesty. As you practice on recognizing the spiritual qualities in people you like and feel comfortable with, you'll find it natural to look for the same God-given goodness in other people too.

In the Bible, in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, we read, ``We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal'' (4:18).

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When we are doing our ``spiritual inventory,'' we aren't looking at outward factors--but at the inner qualities, ``the things which are not seen.'' As we find the good in our classmates, teachers, friends, and neighbors, we naturally feel more comfortable with them! Then, getting along with them and valuing them bring us satisfaction and happiness.

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