Extinguishing the Flames of Hate
A CESSATION of conflict involving international forces in the Persian Gulf has given cause for gratitude. But it may be too easy to forget that there is still much work to be done. There are, for instance, hundreds of oil well fires that continue to rage out of control. The efforts to extinguish these fires are nothing less than heroic. And they may be symbolic of much unresolved conflict among people. While we may not know how to put out a blazing well, we can contribute when we remember that the same heartfelt prayer that helped to bring a quick cessation to the fighting is equally effective in the efforts to put out these fires. This prayer is work we don't need to leave to someone else to do! In fact, a prayerful response can lead to spiritual lessons that will quiet inflamed feelings through the region.
As I thought about how to pray more effectively myself, I realized that since these oil wells were ignited as the direct result of the unleashed fury of hatred and malicious vindictiveness, the flames could be considered as the outward evidence of this hatred. Love is the obvious antidote to hatred. But I knew that only divine Love, God, is powerful enough to smother and stifle hatred.
Divine Love is a law of dissolution to anything unlike its own nature because God is omnipotent, is All. Therefore all is divine Love, and there is no room for hatred in the allness of Love. The prayerful recognition of this fact begins at once to dissolve hatred and its effects in our lives and in our world.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Miscellaneous Writings, ``That man can break the forever-law of infinite Love, was, and is, the serpent's biggest lie!....'' The lie that man can act with hatred and violence against his fellowman is what really needs to be quelled. And Christ Jesus, demonstrating man's true sonship with God, showed us how we can do this. He taught that only forgiveness and heartfelt love toward all, even those who would seek to inju re us, is acceptable. He pointed out our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves. More than this, he urged us to accept the challenge to love divinely, regardless of the circumstances. This spiritual love is the incontestable evidence that we are the children of our Father, God.
Christ Jesus not only taught the law of Love, he proved it as well. When his enemies crucified him he forgave them, praying, as Luke's Gospel records ``Father, forgive them.'' This was the consummate demonstration of the capacity to love in the face of malicious hatred. This same all-embracing Love sustained him in the tomb and led him to the resurrection and ascension. We, too, can call on the same divine Love that annulled the supposed power and effects of hatred for Jesus and expect God's healing and protection in our own lives.
And we can begin to see, for example, that even while these oil well fires burn, Love, God, is quenching animosity, quieting fear, and dissolving hate. Mrs. Eddy, writing in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures of the serpentine lie called hate, explains how evil brings about its own annihilation: ``In the Apocalypse, when nearing its doom, this evil increases and becomes the great red dragon, swollen with sin, inflamed with war against spirituality, and ripe for destruction.'' When hatred expands to its final limit and is seen as evil, it is ripe for destruction. And it is destroyed by the all-power of Love.
Our contribution is to recognize that hatred never has been the authority it claims to be. In our prayers we can rejoice that the power of Love, God, is the only lasting power. And we can gratefully recognize that we are the children of our Father and that it is man's nature to act with caring and compassion toward his fellowman. Then we can put our prayer into action by actively striving to love in everything we do. Every loving, unselfish act brings more active love to the world. There wil l inevitably be peace on earth, but not if we wait for the other fellow to do his part first. The destruction of hatred must begin with each one of us individually. Now is not too soon to start!
Just as peace is not merely the absence of conflict, so, too, love is not merely the absence of hate. Spiritual love is an active, living force felt deeply in the heart of humanity, and it requires active living witnesses to its presence and power. If we allow enmity, suspicion, and revenge to smolder in our thoughts, we are fueling the fires of hatred. But when forgiveness, compassion, and brotherly love are dominant in our hearts, we are waging war on the lie that hatred is natural and inevitable. Whe n we do this, we avail ourselves of the opportunity to turn to God, Love, and make a practical contribution to extinguishing the flames of hate wherever they burn.
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Ye have heard that it hath been said,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour,
and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you,
Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you;
that ye may be the children of your
Father which is in heaven.