Saying no to evil influences
MUCH is being written and said currently about the impact of television and movies on public thought. There's some evidence that individuals occasionally react to what they see by imitating the violent or immoral behavior portrayed in the entertainment media. Even as I write, a man is awaiting arraignment on a murder charge, after having copied the actions of a character in a television program. Certainly one way we can support responsible programming--because there is, after all, much good presented in the media--is to refrain from watching what clearly isn't suitable. But a permanent change is possible only as we individually refuse to be influenced by evil temptations.
How? First, we can strengthen our commitment to obey the First Commandment.1 To have no other gods, to obey no thought or impulse without first considering its source, is one evidence of our sincerity. If a thought comes from divine Love, God, it will bless and is worthy of action. If it will not bless others, we can remember to assert our divine birthright of purity and dominion. We can express this dominion by refusing to submit to the impositions of evil-mindedness.
The prophet Isaiah must have glimpsed something of the importance and effectiveness of this discipline. He wrote, ``Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.'' 2 This peace cannot be found in materialism, in mere gratification of the physical senses. This only leads to unhappiness or disappointed hopes.
The Biblical account of the serpent offering God status to Adam and his mate, in exchange for obedience to its subtle suggestions, is a graphic example of the supposed lure of evil. But this whole account of man's susceptibility to temptation, his inherent moral weakness, contradicts the true account of creation. And this truth, found in Genesis 1, is the basis for our safety.
As the Bible's first chapter clearly reveals, man was made in God's image. Keeping uppermost in thought this practical fact of our real, spiritual identity affords protection against mental manipulation. Whether this manipulation comes in the form of a media presentation, peer pressure, or whatever, we can always turn to our Father as the matrix of our true identity.
What He is, we express. And as we realize in prayer man's spiritual nature (our only genuine nature), we align ourselves with the all-power of Spirit. This enables us to see the right path and gives us the capacity to follow it.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy3 writes, ``Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.'' 4
It's widely acknowledged today that how we think largely determines what we experience. And these words from a hymn really set things straight for me: ``The thought of Thee is mightier far/ Than sin and pain and sorrow are.'' 5
As individuals we can help to improve conditions in our world by individual improvement. Our vote for integrity and purity does count! Passing the buck, blaming evil in the world on corporate irresponsibility, the media, or some other cause won't correct what needs correction. A need for corporate or media responsibility is essentially a need for individual responsibility--for each individual, both within and without an organization, to accept responsibility for his own thoughts and actions.
Our thoughts, individually, insistently, and faithfully held to ``the enduring, the good, and the true''--acknowledging the spiritual fact that God's omnipotence is the only influence on man--can begin at once to alter the larger picture.
According to Christ Jesus, the two great commandments sum it all up: ``Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,'' and ``Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'' 6
As we actively take this position, we are safe from evil influences. And we will see tangible proofs of this as our individual experience alters for the better. The improvement will be evident in the lives of our children, our co-workers, and in wider spheres. It's a position worth taking.
1 See Exodus 20:3. 2 Isaiah 26:3. 3 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4 Science and Health, p. 261. 5 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 134. 6 Matthew 22:37, 39.