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Ferguson, Mo., and the golden rule

A Christian Science perspective. 

Throughout history, when an injustice is perceived to have occurred, the attending feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, and hatred have produced so much emotional upheaval that violence has often been the outcome – violence that has involved destruction of property and harm to innocent bystanders, even the loss of human life. There are those who are concerned that such violence could occur in Ferguson, Mo., as the direct result of a grand jury decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown (see “Cities brace for Ferguson decision: What has Oakland learned from past violence,” CSMonitor.com).

One of the first steps taken in human history to create a sense of justice among civilized people was the rule of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the aim being to right a wrong committed by someone and to inflict the same level of hurt on the perpetrator. But just over 2,000 years ago, someone came along who challenged this sense of justice. His name was Christ Jesus. His words are recorded in the Holy Bible: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38, 39).

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Jesus had personal experience with injustice, and so did his disciples. So when he taught his followers to “turn the other cheek” when they were being treated unjustly, he understood well what he was teaching them. He was actually giving a fuller interpretation to the second great commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and he went on to develop this teaching further in his Sermon on the Mount in words that have come to be known as the Golden Rule: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

This teaching of Jesus is at the very heart of Christianity, and it is vital that it be understood and practiced faithfully. Christian Science offers a perspective that reveals the spiritual facts underlying his teaching. As Jesus did, Christian Science teaches that there is one God, who is infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever present. It reiterates the biblical statement that man is made in God’s image and likeness, showing that man’s true nature is derived from God, good alone. God is our Father-Mother, and we are truly brothers and sisters. As the reflection of the one and only God, the only Mind, man is governed by this Mind alone and is free to express Mind’s intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. To the degree that we understand this, and allow ourselves to be governed by divine Love alone, we are able to express love, compassion, patience, mercy, and thoughtful caring. Jesus knew that God, divine Principle, is the sole governing power of the universe, and is causing His children to obey His law and none other. Because he understood these spiritual facts, Jesus’ life was a perfect model of living God’s love for all His children, beholding all that was spiritually real and true in them, and revealing this truth in such a way that everyone listening to him could see it for themselves.

As we pray for all who feel they have experienced terrible injustices, and are deeply distraught as a result, these words of the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, can bring hope and comfort: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340).