I think we are all guilty of it to some degree. Just as the Pharisee in the Gospel of Luke (18:10-14), who of us has not thought some version of, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even this…” (fill in the blank as you please with… terrorist, extremist, fundamentalist, the misguided person of the opposing political party, the poor, the refugee, the minority, the immigrant, the corrupt, the greedy, the uneducated, the homeless, the oppressed, the rigid, the uninspired, the deluded…)
We cannot afford lapsing into even a tinge of such self-righteous, judgmental thinking. Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” (John 8:7) That injunction still holds today. Regardless of all of our overt progress, no one is yet qualified to throw any stones. God will do the correcting and justifying.
“Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:16-21
Those things we judge others harshly for are actually just impositions on them that they need to be emancipated from. It is not who they actually are as designed by God. They are struggling and need love. We are all children/offspring/outcomes of the same God. Divine Love never bestowed any of these impositions on His dear ideas, and God is all-powerful. He can and will redeem every situation. He can and will remove any misconceptions and contrary labels to reveal everyone’s original purity.
But simultaneously, we each must abstain from adding our own sinfully divisive thinking to the venom produced by others’ struggles with themselves. That only escalates the very impositions they require freedom from. We should not mentally pin offenses onto their underlying innocence, no matter how warranted it may seem, because that perpetuates the very problems we are defending against.
We can condemn evil, or erroneous actions, but we need to be sure to separate the sin from the person. Evil is never a person, place, or thing. Like darkness that is overcome by its opposite (light), we must shine unconditional love on others’ sins, as we hope they will on ours. Only in this way can all our mutual struggles dissolve.
Every person is created, upheld, and maintained by God. Just the other day I spoke on this blog of our inseparability from Spirit. I was thinking about our oneness with distant loved ones when I wrote that, but after recent events, I am struck that the same thinking bundles us together with those that are unlike us as well.
So just as the publican in that Bible story in Luke referred to above, we should instead be feeling humble in the face of our own sins instead of gripping about, being impressed with –or standing aghast at– how colossally others miss the mark. We should be begging for our own mercy and redemption, and, in turning to divine Love with faith, tolerance, and adoration, endeavor to individually uphold a higher standard of the Golden Rule for all mankind collectively. We must choose to consciously put a stop to polarized thinking of every stripe, and begin to fastidiously embrace all of God’s creation with everlasting, unconditional love. I, for one, vow to try.
“The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom.”
By Mary Baker Eddy
As you said Polly – this writer does not attach these elements to a person. For me this illustrates that we are rooting envy, rivalry and hate out of our own thinking. That’s what we are responsible for. Stifle them from lack of air and freedom – from expression in word or deed. This practice systematically diminishes their claim to power in human thought. It becomes a kind of leaven. We destroy these elements in ourselves and ultimately they are destroyed in mankind unilaterally.
Polly, thank you for this reflection and for your wisdom. Jane