Beyond the face of evil
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Bombs that have recently targeted minorities in London are hitting a little too close to home for my liking. My own "minority" family lives there! Each report of a bomb going off comes not only as bad news of mindless aggression, but also strikes me as an affront to the joy of London's diversity.
As I think about these attacks, a mental image forms of an impassive face. It is the grey face of evil, the visage of a soulless criminal, who alone could do such things. The face wants me to fear it, to loathe it, and to accept its ability to cause chaos and terror.
I am tempted to adopt this fear, a reflex reaction to terrorism. But I've come to learn that what I don't need is to become spellbound by that face, under whatever guise or form it takes. I've begun to glimpse the wisdom of these words: "Nothing is real and eternal, - nothing is Spirit, - but God and His idea." That evil "is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 71).
It is because God is everywhere, is all-powerful, and is perfect, that this lurking evil face, threatening to strike again, is "neither person, place, nor thing." Then how do I deal with what strikes fear? I endeavor to recognize it as "a belief, an illusion of material sense."
One way to start doing this is to pray, in heartfelt knowing of what is real and eternal: God. God is good, is the true Soul and the substance of all creation. In the divine Spirit no evil can exist - not even fleetingly.
We live in Spirit and have a true, spiritual identity. This identity is as good as God. It doesn't define us as minorities or majorities, because every son and daughter of God is uniquely individual.
Fearing or loathing some person or group undermines our ability to solve the problems of human relations. Fear and loathing are reactions that personalize evil. They impute to our fellow beings a name and a face that God's children truly can't have.
My prayer - the action God really requires of me - is to adopt a spiritual vision of others like Jesus had. This is the vision that can see evil acts as powerless counterfeits of God, who is the sole source of action - who is omni- action. Jesus saw this clearly enough to be able to walk unharmed through, and out of the influence of, a raging mob bent on killing him (see Luke, Chap. 4).
Similarly, you and I can grow in spiritual understanding, a power that enables us to see beyond the mask of evil, to the true face of good. We can grow in perceiving God's presence and control in our lives so clearly that we will be able to render acts of aggression more and more powerless.
As someone who lived in London throughout the IRA bombing campaign that regularly targeted the English capital, I'm familiar with that sense of "getting on with it" despite the bombs, even while fear and disruption eat away at a normal sense of living. But I also recall an incident that empowered me in refusing to be the servant of fear.
One day, when I was thinking about an incident that was deeply disturbing to me, I saw how it was really a suggestion. It was coming to me in my thinking. It was coming to say that evil, the opposite of God, is unalterably real. But God is Truth, and what opposes God cannot ultimately be true.
As I refused to be convinced of evil's hold, I instead became convinced of the reality, the strength, the all-powerful influence, of God. I had a healing through this. And it didn't seem all that surprising to me that the headline story that evening reported two IRA terrorists unexpectedly renouncing violence.
Being calm. Being alert. That's wise under current circumstances. But London's minorities (and anyone else living in, working in, or visiting the capital) can remember that they don't have to be terrorized by what is ultimately "neither person, place, nor thing." We can pray for and feel the safety of the precious and diverse populations of places like London - sooner rather than later.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Psalms 121:3