“Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless…”

 “Your influence for good depends upon the weight you throw into the right scale. The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable. Evil is not power. It is a mockery of strength, which erelong betrays its weakness and falls, never to rise.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 “Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

After watching this videoclip from the Young Turks on Facebook – a clip from a Donald Trump political rally – I’ve been feeling really discouraged about mankind. As Cenk Uygur, the commentator, says: “If you think this isn’t dangerous, then you’re not paying attention.” In the clip we see the mob inside the rally hall applauding as people are bullied and threatened, hated on, and thrown out – the mob getting more and more excited and frenzied as the rally goes on. The blood lust and excitement we see in the crowd towards the victims of this hatred is incredibly disturbing. When did it become acceptable, in America, to treat each other with such brazen, unapologetic mean-ness? When did people in our society lose their civility and courtesy to one another? When did it become popular and “cool” to be hateful?

I’m grappling with how I, personally, should respond to what I see in this videoclip. I’m thinking it through as I type this… so… yeah… this may not be the most articulate post you’ve ever read…

It seems to me that to ignore the behavior we see in that video – to just close our eyes and stop up our ears and pretend it’s not happening – is not going to make it go away. It needs to be unmasked, exposed, and seen for what it is – senseless and hateful and dishonorable. The hatred needs to be condemned. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Evil which obtains in the bodily senses, but which the heart condemns, has no foundation; but if evil is uncondemned, it is undenied and nurtured. Under such circumstances, to say that there is no evil, is an evil in itself. When needed tell the truth concerning the lie. Evasion of Truth cripples integrity, and casts thee down from the pinnacle.”

Whoaaaah, right?

But I don’t want to be a part of perpetuating the cycle of hatred, either. I don’t want to personify evil or demonize men. Eddy writes, “”Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion  of material sense.”  Okay. Let me think about that for a moment. Evil is an illusion. Hunh. It sure SEEMS real, doesn’t it? But… “Evil thoughts and aims reach no farther and do no more harm than one’s belief permits. Evil thoughts, lusts, and malicious purposes cannot go forth, like wandering pollen, from one human mind to another, finding unsuspected lodgment, if virtue and truth build a strong defence.” A Facebook friend said, upon watching the aforementioned videoclip, that these “folks are mesmerized.” And I think she’s spot on with that observation. In that sense, it IS an illusion – an illusion of power and belonging – a hypnotic suggestion that to follow the path towards bigotry and hatred is somehow a good thing. Illusion. There is no real power for folks who hate on others – hating on people doesn’t make you healthier or happier or stronger – it has no power to make the world a better place. And that’s the only power that really matters, right?

And now I’m thinking about all the really wonderful and noble people in my community of friends – good people – generous and caring and thoughtful and honest – decent, fearless individuals. THOSE are the people with the real power, right?

Okay. It’s time to get ready for work. I think first I’ll listen to Joan Baez sing one of my favorite songs, though…

“We are not afraid, we are not afraid today… deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome someday.” (Charles Albert Tindley)

We Shall Overcome

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. –                                                                                        from the Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com/

Consciousness of right-doing brings its own reward; but not amid the smoke of battle is merit seen and appreciated by lookers-on… If your endeavors are beset by fearful odds, and you receive no present reward, go not back to error, nor become a sluggard in the race. When the smoke of battle clears away, you will discern the good you have done, and receive according to your deserving. – Mary Baker Eddy

***

It sure appears sometimes that injustice, bigotry, hatred, and inequality are winning the battle, doesn’t it? We crave justice. We yearn for equity and fair play. But we don’t always seem to find those things in the here and now. We might be tempted to feel discouraged and frustrated about the state of our world. We might be tempted to lose hope. We might even be tempted to just give up. But… well, if we just give up – what’s the alternative? To STOP trying to do good? To choose to be  unkind? To choose to be dishonest? To deliberately and consciously choose to feel no joy? Those do not feel like healthy options to me.

The other day I decided to conduct a little experiment: I decided to make a bad day for myself.  I had no idea how to go about this, really. I figured that making a bad day for myself would probably start with a bad attitude, though, right? About half an hour into my experiment I made the mistake of calling my mom. Within a minute she had me cracking up.  So. Yeah.  So much for my little experiment.  After my inauspicious beginning, it didn’t get much worse, either. My experiment was a spectacular failure. I learned something from it, though. I learned that I’d have to work really hard to make a bad day for myself.  And I faced the fact that I’m simply too lazy to have much success with that kind of thing.

Call me a naïve idealist, but I believe that good overcomes evil. I believe Love overcomes hate. I believe that wisdom overcomes ignorance. I believe Truth overcomes dishonesty. Always.  I believe what Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Though error hides behind a lie and excuses guilt, error cannot forever be concealed. Truth, through her eternal laws, unveils error.”

I believe that we SHALL overcome someday.

We shall overcome,

 We shall overcome,

We shall overcome, someday.

 Oh, deep in my heart,

 I do believe.

 we shall overcome,  someday.

We’ll walk hand in hand,

We’ll walk hand in hand,

We’ll walk hand-in-hand, someday. – Zilphia Hart, Frank Hamilton, Guy Carawan, and Pete Seeger

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yId_ABmtw-w

We won’t forget Trayvon. He is important to us – the verdict this week doesn’t change the truth of  that. God bless his family.

  … Want of uniform justice is a crying evil caused by the selfishness and inhumanity of man. Our forefathers exercised their faith in the direction taught by the Apostle James, when he said: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted  from the world.”The wicked man is not the ruler of his upright neighbor. Let it be understood that success in error is defeat in Truth… – Mary Baker Eddy

Prayer – “We Shall Overcome”

“…when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

– Matthew 6

“God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love… God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more?”

– Mary Baker Eddy

 ***

I know there’s some concern about prayer in school. Some folks are concerned about prayer being taken out of school. Some are concerned about prayer being put in school.

Me? Well, I guess I’m concerned about what kind of prayer we’re talking about here, and who, exactly, would be leading these school prayers. Would this be a prayer the students have to recite out loud? Which religious group’s beliefs would be represented in this prayer? And which god or power would our students be praying to, specifically?

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.’”  Those prayers that are silent, private, heart-felt, and unspoken – within our mental “closet” – are always available to us. No one can stop us from praying silently. That kind of prayer can never be kept out of our schools. It doesn’t infringe on the conscience or beliefs of other students, doesn’t force anyone else to join in, and doesn’t distract from lessons and learning.

For me, prayer means bringing my thoughts close to the heart of Love and Truth – bringing myself, mentally, into harmony with all that is Good. It doesn’t involve pleading, cajoling, or begging some capricious anthropomorphic being to fix all my problems for me. It doesn’t involve me imposing on some finite god’s time or energies. For me God is, literally, Love –  and it’s not at all an imposition on Love to be Love, or on Truth to be Truth.

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation.” God’s work is done. And it’s perfect and beautiful and whole. It’s our responsibility to open our thoughts to Good, to enable our thoughts to be receptive to it.

What, exactly, are we praying for? Mary Baker Eddy asks us, “What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to make ourselves better or to benefit those who hear us, to enlighten the infinite or to be heard of men?” Are we praying for material gifts, for money or material wealth, or status or power? Are we praying to look pious to other people, or are we praying to become better expressions of Good?

“What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds,” writes Eddy.

For me, prayer starts with gratitude – a recognition of, and appreciation for, all the good in my life.

“Are we grateful for the good already received?” Eddy asks.  “Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.”

I once sent out an invitation to the folks in my community to join me for  a sharing-of-good-thoughts meeting. I was joined by an atheist, a Buddhist, a couple of Methodists, and several Catholics – all there to share their healing, inspirational thoughts. At the end of our meeting we joined hands and shared in a moment of silence together.  That moment of silence was really powerful. I felt something there – a feeling of communal support and confidence and courage. After our moment of silence we sang that wonderful old anthem of the Civil Rights movement, “We Shall Overcome.” There was hope in those words, and a feeling of surety of the power of Good and Love.

That is what I call powerful Prayer.

“We are not afraid

We are not afraid

We are not afraid today.

Oh, deep in my heart I know it’s true

we shall overcome some day.”

–      derived from lyrics by Charles Tindley

Behold, a youtube of the great Joan Baez:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yId_ABmtw-w

“‘God is Love.’ More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.” – Mary Baker Eddy