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Hope for a kinder world

A Christian Science perspective: How to stop hurtful criticism.

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Have you ever felt pushed around? Or criticized? Or maybe you’ve been on the other side of things and have been too pushy or critical. There’s a problem here that relates in varying degrees to many people and to our society as a whole.

My experience suggests that criticism and unkindness are a kind of contagion that affects people in different ways at different times. Let’s say someone hears some critical remarks about someone else and relays them to everyone in the room, whether they want to hear them or not. If one of those listeners brings the remarks into another room, then a different group of people are also subjected to the comments, which doesn’t do anyone any good.

Whether you’re the giver or the receiver, criticism, at the least, deprives you of your peace.

Given Christ Jesus’ record of healing and of improving lives, many consider him the expert on setting the right model. He used a metaphor about us as shining lights. This is a powerful lesson for everyone, so that the pusher or the pushed, the criticizer or the criticized, can find the peace and fulfillment he or she needs. He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Our heavenly Father or divine Creator has established each of us to be lights in our universe – like the sun, which brightens the solar system. The sun is identified by the light and warmth it expresses. Ultimately, all of us are defined by the good identity and purpose God has given us. We are not subject to the identity and purpose that God has given others. We can’t really climb higher because of another’s fall. Nor can we fall lower because of another’s climb. In this way, there’s no true basis for subjugating another or for feeling imposed upon.

There’s actually a more fundamental point to consider: God is the divine Principle of our lives – our source, origin, and cause. This divine cause is only good through and through. And there is no other fundamental cause or source. No one else is the source of, or is responsible for, our good – nor is anyone in a position to take away our good. The heavenly Father is, in the fullest sense, the only force in the universe.

The Bible states, “God is love” (I John 4:16). The divine order or law that governs the universe and those who dwell in it is loving and means for everyone to have harmony and fulfillment. And one by one, through our efforts to understand this fundamental order of our lives, we spread an awakening to the feeling of divine Love. Regardless of what end of the unkindness stick we’ve been on, this spiritual understanding of our relationship to God is scientific and conveys a power that heals the unkindness of our world.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, promised: “With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 469-470).

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I’m sure we can all do a better job of coming to understand that we have one Father, one origin or force in our lives. And making this effort is indeed important. Through it, we bring the stability and joy that wipe out criticism and hurt feelings, revealing the good inherent in our wonderful, universal family.

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