Equality

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Perhaps no word has ever conjured up more inspiring pictures than the word Equality, and none, surely, has been more abused. Poets have sung its praises, philosophers have taught its beauties, and philanthropists have spent themselves in trying to attain to it, and yet at the opening of the twentieth century the ideal of Equality seems to be far from being realized.

To one who studies history in the light of Christian Science, it is of the deepest interest to trace the working of ideals in the human thought, and to follow the movements resulting therefrom, as they form an illustration of the gradual emergence out of darkness to a better light, and show how, without a knowledge of Principle to guide and control, the pendulum has simply swung from one extreme to the other, the oppressed of one generation becoming the oppressors of the next.

From the earliest times the strong have tyrannized over the weak, the rich have ground down the poor, injustice has followed hard upon the heels of inequality, until at last in violent re-action, human nature has produced civil war, revolution, bloodshed, and strife. While it is undoubtedly true that out of these upheavals in thought a better belief has been slowly evolved, that some forms of tyranny have vanished forever, and a more tolerant spirit has arisen to control human affairs, yet in some instances it seems to be true, that the tendency of these re-actions themselves, has been to “level down.” However noble the sentiments, however pure the aspirations of the individual reformer, the force let loose by the impact of the new ideas, has in practice sometimes seemed to make for a lower, not a higher plane of thought. The probable explanation of this is, that when the force of public feeling has been loosened, elements unforeseen have come to the surface, sweeping the control out of the hands of the disinterested seeker after truth and reform, and placing self-interest, avarice, and greed in the front of the movement.

“The true Christian Scientist knows that he cannot be kept out of his right place, or put into a wrong one.”

M.S.T.

The student of Christian Science sees at a glance wherein the failure of these efforts at reform lies, for in proportion as he learns that the cause of every effect is in mentation alone, it becomes obvious that no reform which does not go to the root of the matter, lying in the unknown depths of the human mind, can do more than have a merely passing effect, doctoring the result but leaving the cause untouched.

The student of Christian Science sees at a glance wherein the failure of these efforts at reform lies, for in proportion as he learns that the cause of every effect is in mentation alone, it becomes obvious that no reform which does not go to the root of the matter, lying in the unknown depths of the human mind, can do more than have a merely passing effect, doctoring the result but leaving the cause untouched.

“No reform which does not go to the root of the matter, lying in the unknown depths of the human mind, can do more than have a merely passing effect, doctoring the result but leaving the cause untouched.”

Underneath the outward manifestations of inequality and injustice, such as great wealth, poverty, trusts, monopolies, class distinctions, and so on,—all the complexity of ancient and modern life,—lie two factors in the human mind, which it would seem, the reformer has not generally recognized, namely, the elements of mortal mind and the misunderstanding of God.

Of these two factors it would be hard to say whether one is cause and the other effect, so inextricably do they seem to be interwoven in thought. One; viz., those things which constitute mortal mind,—envy, jealousy, ambition, greed, coveteousness, lust, tyranny, hatred, selfishness,—is the most obvious.

The other is man’s universally false conception of God. In the Message to the Mother Church of 1902, the Discoverer of Christian Science says: “Our thoughts of the Bible utter our lives.” In that profound saying lies the truth which bases all social life, for mortal man’s standard of truth, morality, and justice has been formed by his conception of God, and developed in accordance therewith. If that conception has been base, incorrect, or changeable, his standards of morality will be base, incorrect, and changeable.

If the deductions drawn from the foregoing brief survey of familiar ground are correct, we come to this conclusion, that to bring about a lasting and radical reform which shall do away with the inequalities and injustice of human affairs, we must have a high and true conception of God, and a new mind in man.

It is in following out thoughts of this kind that one realizes something of what the discovery of Christian Science has meant to the world, and of the vastness of the revolution it is accomplishing, for in Science and Health only, will the solution of these problems which have vexed the ages be found. With a dim sense of the immensity of the outlook, one can but say, “the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Christian Science presents to us the idea of God as Mind, eternal, infinite, unchangeable, expressing Himself eternally, infinitely, unchangeably, as law, order, justice, the harmonious sequence of perfect cause and perfect effect,—that is, Love.

“To bring about a lasting and radical reform which shall do away with the inequalities and injustice of human affairs, we must have a high and true conception of God, and a new mind in man.”

Man is seen to have his place in Mind as idea, every idea sustained eternally in its right time and place and order, and thus the universal brotherhood of man in God’s image and likeness, dawns in thought in due course. In such a universe, governed by Principle, it is seen that inequality can have no more place or manifestation than in mathematics.

The assimilation of these ideas by the individual, proceeding as it is at a phenomenally high rate of speed, must produce such a revolution in thought as will eventually penetrate every branch of social life, and so undermine the foundations of those moral evils, which destroyed the great nations of the past, and will surely destroy those of the present unless the only certain remedy is applied.

To consider this question of Equality, simply as it confronts the student of Christian Science in every-day life, we find that it takes the form principally of social distinction, “class,” “position,” and all those innumerable unwritten yet iron codes which are bound up with the very fibres of our common existence, and which seem to wield as much power amongst savage as amongst civilized peoples.

Undoubtedly “class distinctions,” and all those kindred beliefs, have their roots in the same qualities as have produced the greater evils of social economy, that is in envy, jealousy, ambition, love of power, pride, or to put it in a word, personal sense; but in dealing with this subject practically, one fact should be borne in mind, and that is, that all these so-called different grades and castes, are simply so many different mental conditions, and that therefore, while in Mind all men are equal, in mortal mind they are not, and never will be.

There are cases, illustrative of this point, of men who have attempted to make practical the self-evident theoretical truth, that all men are equal, by abandoning their wealth or position, in order to live and work with the “toilers.” The cause they had at heart has not been substantially, if at all, advanced by these attempts, for the simple reason, which presumably they did not recognize, that the mental states of the individuals have been so different that no real equality has been possible, and while admiring the self-sacrifice and devotion to an ideal which animates such efforts, one cannot but realize that the very effort in itself indicates a mental height to which the “toiler” in his present condition, is incapable of attaining, and that therefore there can be no more real equality between them than if they lived in different hemispheres and spoke different languages.

The matter is very plainly stated in Science and Health on page 444: “Immortals, or God’s children in divine Science, are one harmonious family; but mortals, or the ‘children of men’ in sense, are a discordant race, and are ofttimes false brethren.”

Therefore to sweep aside all the old distinctions and restraints, which while they are unreal and artificial, are still deep-rooted in belief, is not the effective way to demonstrate equality. It can only be done by the gradual change which is creeping over every thought under the silent influence of Christian Science, by the wisdom, patience, courtesy, and above all, the purity, honesty, and humility which are the outcome of individual faithfulness to the teachings and practice of our beloved Leader, until the whole mass of human thought becomes leavened by the new idea, and God’s kingdom comes on earth as in heaven. 

 Is Equality then still the unattainable ideal? By no means. It is to be found, here and now, amongst those true Christian Scientists who are working from Principle, with reference to God only, in that true humility which needs no self-assertion. They have not to be exercised as to their place or position, recognizing that the only place or position they can have, is in Mind, that which is demonstrated as the result of fidelity to the demands of Principle. The true Christian Scientist knows that he cannot be kept out of his right place, or put into a wrong one, if he is faithful in working out the problem of his life in obedience to the teaching of Christian Science.In those hearts from which all the foul brood of self-love and self-justification have been cast out, will be found the perfect equality of God’s children, each filling his own place, doing his own work, and loving his neighbor as himself. Equality on a material basis can never be. 

Only as mortal man rises to the understanding of the spiritual origin and ultimate of all things, will it be found possible to establish the true democracy or socialism of Jesus’ teaching. When man learns in Science, how to render unto God the things that are God’s, he will understand how to render therefore unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s.

(Originally published in the November, 1902 Christian Science Journal)

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