Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Calming Violence

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Calming Violence

Article excerpt

VIOLENCE has the tendency to beget violence. It is not a healer, the resolver of conflict, or an aid to progress. Knowing this, community leaders and religious figures throughout the Los Angeles area have been calling for calm and peace since the riots Wednesday night.

Defusing racial tensions and healing long-standing social inequities require urgent attention. Many groups, along with government agencies, will work at this problem. But what can you or I do as individuals? What can we do right now?

One thing is to face up to our own prejudices or fears. Fear that we will never be treated justly. Fear of those who look different or whose background, nationality, or culture is different from our own. What guidance is available to uncover and remove the causes of such fears?

The Bible recounts some of the events in the life of Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, in the book of Acts. He was subject to the prejudices and sense of exclusivity that were common to his people. Yet as the influence of Christ Jesus' teachings deepened within him, his understanding of God widened. He discovered that God's love was impartial--bestowed on all equally. This contributed to a revolution within Peter, an overturning of lifelong prejudice against Gentiles.

Peter was compelled to reexam-ine his former views. He needed to yield to a diviner sense of man. Peter's feelings of racial superiority lessened in light of God's love and acceptance of all men. As this leavened his thought, he finally made this spiritual discovery: "God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. . . . Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Are we willing to follow this course of thought and strive to see beyond race or nationality and recognize man's spiritual identity? …

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