A Christian Science perspective: In response to the Orlando shootings.
With each tweet, Facebook post, and news update about the Orlando, Fla., shootings, my heart ached with this question: How can I help?
“Deal with hatred.” That’s the first thought that came. It was a reminder that what we think matters and has an impact on our environment.
We’ve all probably felt the effects of someone’s bad mood, or conversely, a friend’s joy lifting the spirits of an entire room. Thought makes a difference. And thought devoted to dealing with hatred in our own lives can, in a modest way, contribute to lessening hatred in our communities and even beyond.
This is about more than thinking positively, though. By studying Christian Science, I’ve learned that God is all good – good itself. So when we commit thought to good, to love instead of hate, we’re actually feeling something of God’s presence. The more we feel that presence of good, the more foreign hatred feels. There’s simply no room for hatred in the presence of pure good.
Allowing the presence of good into our hearts doesn’t just uplift us and those around us, though; it can actually effect change and bring healing. I discovered this for myself when I came face to face with hatred in my own workplace. While I certainly can’t claim that this particular hatred crossed into the horrendous extremes of this past weekend, what I learned through my experience has helped me in praying about Orlando.
The first thing I realized at that time was that I needed to address the hatred I was feeling – not just for my own benefit, but because I wanted to contribute to an atmosphere of love, not hatred. So I prayed. I started with the spiritual fact that God is good. The Bible says that God made us to be like Him, His very image (see Genesis 1:26, 27, and 31), so I knew that goodness was natural to me and to everyone.
I asked God to help me see hatred as foreign – not part of who I was, or who anyone else was. I also knew from reading “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, that the purity of who God created us to be couldn’t be contaminated by hatred, since “[t]he divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness” (p. 151).
Any time that suggestion of hatred came to thought, no matter how compelling it seemed, I prayed to go deeper in my understanding that God did not create us to hate or be hateful. I affirmed that hatred was foreign to who I was, foreign to my thoughts – a temptation that actually had no power to hold anyone captive, since God, good, holds guard over our lives. This Bible passage reassured me: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). I cherished the idea that God’s love for each of His children is an active power which, when understood, keeps us from being consumed by the evil of hatred.
With this idea, things changed. The hateful thoughts lost their power to engage my attention, and I found more peace. At my workplace, even the person who had instilled fear among his co-workers softened in perceptible ways.
This experience, among others that followed, showed me that dealing with hatred in our own lives, even in modest ways, has a positive effect on our environment. Since then, I’ve been grateful to be more alert to dealing with hatred when it tries to insinuate itself as my own thought, and also to praying about the issue for the world as a whole.
Events like the Orlando shootings can seem overwhelming in their odiousness. But rather than being impressed by the hatred behind such heinous acts – or reacting with hatred ourselves – we can be proactive in combating hatred. Thought by thought, we can allow God, divine Love, to become more real to us. We can yield to Love’s government of our thoughts and actions and to the fact that Love truly does govern everyone, everywhere.
Each time we do this, we move one step closer to a world where these kinds of acts are no longer perpetrated, the world envisioned in this hymn from the “Christian Science Hymnal”:
Love now is dawning over every nation;
Showing true brotherhood, publishing salvation,
Love bids all discord cease.
Conquering hate, enthroning peace,
Love, Love alone is power. (Margaret Morrison, No. 179, © CSBD)