Source of world peace found within each individual
Roy J. Linnig, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The long history of war among nations isn't a good enough reason for believing war is inevitable, Roy J. Linnig, C.S., of Chicago told an audience last night in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Linnig laid the responsibility for world peace squarely up to each individual and said peace, not war, will be inevitable when each man learns to keep the peace within himself.
He likened the search for peace to a mountain climbing expedition, "the human trek" from war to peace. "As peacemakers," he continued, "you and I are members of an expedition.
"We have a goal: to exalt and love God and His pure peaceable creation; to destroy all enemies to peace; to win peace on earth, and advance to final spiritual reality, 'the peace of God, which passeth all understanding' " (Phil. 4:7).
Asserting that we need a pattern for responsibility, the lecturer cited the life and lessons of Christ Jesus: "As a practical peacemaker, he prayed; . . . Jesus didn't dally with evil thoughts. He made instant evaluation and decision. And he instantly implemented his purpose."
In the same way every peacemaker must subdue destructive elements in his own thinking until they're destroyed. When he is tempted to hate, or fear, or be angry, he takes sober second thought, and third and fourth, if needed, to eliminate these and fulfill his commitment to peace.
"The responsible peacemaker prays. He follows Christ Jesus, his pattern for responsibility. He evaluates thoughts. He decides for the spiritual and against the warring, and he implements his purpose by controlling and destroying inner conflicts."
These practical prayers, the lecturer declared, "contribute mightily to world peace. They're felt throughout the earth."
a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, is currently on tour
A partial text of the lecture follows:
Five enemies to peace
Our family once rented an apartment in a respectable but old building. The light switch in the long, dark hall was faulty. The light flickered badly. My mother asked the landlord to repair the switch. I remember his amazing answer: "Why bother? It's been that way for years!"
When it comes to winning the peace, don't too many of us take a similar attitude? "Why bother?" Or, even worse, "What's the use?" But the nuclear threat, if nothing else, is making such thinking obsolete. We're being forced to face the urgent demand for peace. The question is, "How do we do this?"
Petrarch wrote: "Five great enemies to peace inhabit with us: namely, avarice [we call it greed], ambition, envy, anger, and pride. If those enemies were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace." If Petrarch is right, peace depends on the individual. Because where are Petrarch's enemies to peace to be found except in our individual hearts?
When I was a teen-ager, a situation arose in which my mother criticized me. She was right, the way mothers usually are! But my pride was hurt, and I got angry. In fact, I came close to hating her. She was the dearest person on earth. How I wanted to banish pride and anger! But they seemed so real. I had a war on my hands – a war within myself. Warring elements made me an easy mark. I wasn't taking responsibility for my thoughts and acts. Finally I saw how foolish this was. And when I let go of pride and anger, I appreciated my mother's motives. Peace was restored.
Today we have a war on our hands. I don't mean the shooting or even the cold kind. I mean our individual battles with enemies to peace. Everyone wants peace; this is our goal. Yet all of us have inner conflicts. Are we willing to take responsibility for resolving them?
Peace is an individual matter. This is why we should make a more serious effort to destroy causes of conflict in our hearts. It's there peace must be won.
God the source of harmony
Moral and spiritual forces exist which, properly understood and applied, will root out causes of conflict. These forces operate in individual human hearts. Qualities like unselfishness, humility, true brotherly love, make powerful contributions to peace. When these qualities motivate us, warring elements are subdued, eliminated.
Once I made what I thought was a good proposal in a public meeting. Someone attacked me verbally for making this proposal. And the attack included name-calling. I could have had a war on my hands! Yet on this occasion, I'm glad to say, I found myself being a peacemaker. My heart was occupied with unselfishness, humility, brotherly love. Because I didn't respond to the attack, there was no hurt and no hate. When the proposal was defeated, I wasn't an easy mark for pride or anger. Right then I knew something of what these words mean: "On earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke ).
What a contrast between this incident and the experience with my mother! The first had all the elements of a peaceful situation. But because I responded with anger, there was conflict. The second had all the elements of conflict. But because I responded with brotherly love, there was peace on earth. I learned that peace is individual.
The question, What is peace? can best be answered by asking some further questions. Isn't peace a matter of establishing the qualities of peace in our thinking, shaping our actions? Isn't it a matter of moral and spiritual qualities established so firmly that no element of war can get the upper hand?
And there's the trouble. When greed, anger, or hate come in, they usually get the upper hand. This seems typical of human experience: good appears to be overpowered by evil. Here's Paul's comment about his inner conflicts: "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" (Rom. ).
Measurable success over conflict
Recently I watched a pile driver sinking pilings for a skyscraper. It pounded till each piling was down to bedrock. Without a firm footing, skyscrapers would collapse.
The qualities of peace are like a skyscraper. They need a firm footing, so they won't collapse. These qualities are in your consciousness and mine, even though we don't recognize them. If we suppose they originate in us, their footing is unsound. But it we realize all moral and spiritual qualities originate in a higher source, we have a sound foundation.
Call this source what you will – architect of the universe, originator, creator. As men base their peacemaking thoughts and actions on this supreme power, they're less and less vulnerable to attack by enemies to peace. Wasn't it through expressing this higher power that I maintained peace in the public meeting?
Such measurable success in proving the supremacy of good convinces us there's a supreme power, or God, who creates and perpetuates all good qualities. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, briefly identifies man's essential nature and the source of all peace-bringing qualities. She writes: "Man is the expression of God's being" (p. 470).
Then to know man's true nature we first need to understand the nature of God. Isn't it logical that a Supreme Being who is divine Truth originates honesty and justice? And that the Supreme Being who is divine Love originates mercy and brotherly love? That divine Mind creates the intelligence men express in wise, unselfish acts? And that God is the ultimate divine Principle who produces orderly and high-principled behavior in man? This is spiritually scientific reasoning about God and man.
Christ Jesus a scientific peacemaker
Such reasoning about a cause who is divine Truth and Love and Mind and Principle, and about man, His effect, is a most important field for scientific investigation. When pursued, it opens doors to peace which no investigation by the physical senses can ever open.
No, we can't know God through the five physical senses. They can't know anything spiritual. But we do know God through our spiritual sense, through man's natural ability to perceive spiritual things, spiritual qualities and spiritual values. And we can find in God an unshakable base for expressing within ourselves the moral and spiritual qualities that ensure peace.
Christ Jesus was a peacemaker. He said God is Spirit and he knew that our identity and the good qualities we express are spiritual, based in Spirit.
He knew that man, as expressing God, Spirit, is not fleshly or physical. He said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6).
Jesus knew, too, that Spirit is supreme and that spiritual qualities, expressed by man, are superior to evil elements, which are based on the mistaken view of man as physical. Jesus worked to destroy sin and suffering. His method was direct and practical. The roots of all conflict, all sin, suffering, death, are in individual hearts. Jesus exposed these roots – hate, lust, greed. He taught that these evils are erased by spiritual qualities, love, purity, unselfishness, and by gaining an understanding of man's nature as God's child, as the idea of divine Mind. This is done by our conscious efforts to utilize the power given us by God to choose true spiritual thoughts, spiritual facts, and to let go of evil's deceptions.
Jesus' lessons grew from his life. Regardless of the struggles involved, he took responsibility for his thoughts and acts. Selfish ambition and other evils attacked his thought. But he campaigned against them to their complete rout, and to the complete victory of spiritual qualities.
We're not interested in encouraging a fight for its own sake. On the other hand, appeasement of evil isn't peace. Jesus was a peacemaker, but not an appeaser. Elton Trueblood says: "There is a sense in which Christ came to bring peace, but there is another sense in which He came to bring a sword, and we must try to understand both of these if we are to begin to grasp the truth." Peacemaking is exalting moral and spiritual qualities so that conflicting elements are subdued and destroyed. This is the peace Christ Jesus spoke about when he said, "My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you" (John ).
Appeasement is a futile attempt to reconcile evil with good. It's a truce with evil, or surrender. This is peace without honor. That's why Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. ). We win peace by using the sword of Truth to make a clear distinction between good and evil thoughts, between Spirit and flesh. We battle to separate evils from our consciousness. This exalts the good, the spiritual. It brings peace with honor. On this basis, Jesus was a spiritually scientific peacemaker; his life is the epitome of peace with honor.
Why is the world missing the meaning of Jesus' vital definition of peace? Partly because the physical senses hedge us in. They indicate peace is not individual, that it depends on environments, situations, people. But how dependable are these senses? Researchers admit they're extremely limited, even in measuring material phenomena. The eye sees only a small fraction of the light in the spectrum. Sounds and smells exist far beyond the range of ear and nose. Harlow Shapley says the existence of senses now unknown to men is so reasonable as to seem axiomatic.
Here's the challenge: to recognize that the important unknown sense is spiritual sense, that consciousness of God which sees the essential spiritual reality of all things. Multiplication or refinement of physical senses won't help. Spiritual sense breaks through limits. It shows that peace on earth points to a spiritual state of absolute peace as its source and basis.
Science and Health states: "Spiritual living and blessedness are the only evidences, by which we can recognize true existence and feel the unspeakable peace which comes from an all-absorbing spiritual love" (p. 264). Isn't true existence then, the perfect accord of individual spiritual man with God and with all other identities? Perfect peace may seem remote to the physical senses, but it's real, and through "spiritual living and blessedness" will finally be recognized. For the present we should be glad that whenever we establish peace within, we find peace on earth.
Warring elements dissolved
A friend of mine bought a business corporation with another man. They worked together for years as equal owners. Then without warning, in a board meeting, the other man moved to give himself a large increase in salary. The motion carried, and afterward my friend was told he must sell part of his stock; otherwise the corporation would be dissolved. It was a maneuver to win a majority stock position.
This was so unjust my friend responded with resentment and fear. But he was learning true responsibility. He knew warring elements can be proved unreal through Christian Science. So he worked to replace resentment with brotherly love, and fear with confidence in God's justice. A statement in Science and Health was his theme: "Let us accept Science, relinquish all theories based on sense-testimony, give up imperfect models and illusive ideals; and so let us have one God, one Mind, and that one perfect, producing His own models of excellence" (p. 249). Gradually he freed himself from the warring elements in his thinking and knew the warring elements apparent in his partner had no reality, either.
His associate's attitude changed. They had a friendly conference. As a result the just thing was done, and the business is still thriving.
This man won peace with honor. He saved himself and his business from being easy marks. He recognized the causes of conflict and dealt with them properly. Through the spiritual understanding of God and man he'd learned in Christian Science, he established peace within himself, then won peace with his associate.
If we want peace, we must recognize the causes of conflict and deal with them properly. Petrarch recommends their banishment. Kings have banished enemies to their thrones. My friend eliminated resentment and fear from his heart and so could eliminate selfish ambition and greed from his business.
Warring elements are like figures in a masquerade which conceal ugly faces under attractive masks. Let's look at some of these evils. Take hate. Have you ever felt a surge of hatred? Sometimes it attacks consciousness like soldiers rushing an enemy position. It seems overpowering. Human love changes to hate under impact of jealousy. Hate may even seem enjoyable. It may so obsess a person that he can't reason.
Ample opportunities for achievement
Most of us know the Bible story of Cain and Abel. When Cain's offering was rejected, he should have seen the opportunity to improve his own offering, instead of being jealous of Abel's. But passion blinded reason, and hatred made him murder Abel. And while the near-hatred I was tempted to feel toward my mother was mild by comparison, it was just as unreasoning.
Hate causes suffering. Nearly everyone knows how it harms the physical body. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 12). Suffering and death are a high price for indulging hate.
And what about greed? It breeds theft, blackmail, violence. It might seem logical, because there seem to be more "have-nots" than there are "haves." But greed and crime won't solve this problem. Basically, each individual should have the opportunity to earn what he needs. Changes in the social order are taking place which should make this possible. When we earn what we need, greed is replaced by industrious self-reliance.
Then there's ambition. It seems compulsive. Human desires being endless, it leads on and on. My friend's business associate was an honest man. He lacked nothing. But greed and ambition swayed him to dishonesty and selfishness. Such elements poison thought and distort values. Greed and ambition have been at the roots of many wars.
Sometimes all these conflicting elements build on one another, but the responsible thinker knows they strip men of humanity and exalt animality. Elements of conflict are selfish, and hide the humaneness and spirituality which are natural to men. Peace reveals men as they truly are, the expressions of God.
But the startling point is this: elements of conflict aren't real. Although they seem to have substance and power, they're just empty shadows. As we get to know their spiritual real counterparts, they fade out. The ancients were convinced that Zeus and Apollo – all their mythological gods – were real. If someone had told them the truth and persuaded them of it, they would have quit believing in them.
Mrs. Eddy discovered basis of healing
So with elements of conflict, and sickness, too. And the revolutionary truth of their unreality we owe to Mary Baker Eddy. She discovered and demonstrated that the only realities are divine Mind, God, and His perfect peaceful creation. Whatever God doesn't create is unreal. That is, it's unsubstantial, it can't last or endure. All elements of conflict fall in this class. They vanish as soon as their illusory nature is exposed and understood, as soon as they're replaced by the truth.
Mrs. Eddy was in delicate health even as a girl. And she pondered Jesus' promise that his followers would heal the sick. Her quest to discover Jesus' method of scientific Christian healing was long. She made the Bible her daily companion.
In her mid-forties a serious injury from an accident turned her once more to the Bible. While reading an account of one of Jesus' healings, she was healed. She glimpsed that Jesus' works illustrated the true nature of existence as wholly spiritual and that material existence is therefore illusion, unreal. No doubt these propositions startled her. But suffering was erased by her glimpse of Truth. She probed the Bible to answer this question, "What was the Science of Jesus' healing work?" Along with her search, she tested the proposition of evil's unreality. Diseases of all types disappeared before her understanding of the spiritual accord between God and man. Gradually she learned that every sin, every conflict, even death, must be unreal.
I've been a Christian Scientist from the time I could reason. But I remember the thrill when I first saw that inner conflicts aren't real. By studying the Bible and Science and Health I learned that I could quit being a sitting duck for fear, hate, and other evils. I could resist and rout these warring elements. This statement of Mrs. Eddy really struck home: "The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 277). This shows the need for individual responsibility. Each of us should contribute to world peace by taking in the Christ, God's true spiritual idea.
The Christ enables us to eliminate elements of conflict. It's a divine power more readily available than electric power. It's God's power in your consciousness, expressed as spiritual ideas which dispel illusions. Illusions are rooted in individual human consciousness. It's there that Christ destroys them. Christ is Truth, which establishes your agreement with God and brings peace on earth. As peacemakers, we should take in the Christ, Truth, and utilize it till it totally destroys all causes of conflict.
Scientific Christian healing of disease proved to be the eye-opener which makes men see how illusory all suffering and sin are. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy outlines the spiritually scientific path to peace. Her life illustrates how practical this path is. Her vigorous support of every wise effort to establish world peace is a historic fact. And she backed up her purpose by taking full responsibility for her thoughts and acts. She banished warring elements from her consciousness, proved them unreal. She exalted and expressed the peaceful ideas of God.
Mrs. Eddy's discovery is a vastly important scientific breakthrough. It's more significant than release of power in the atom, more challenging than piercing earth's atmosphere to explore space. The provable unreality and impotence of evil and the provable reality and supremacy of God open the door to establishing peace on earth. They point to that absolute spiritual peace in which no warring element can exist.
How can we directly contribute to peace on earth? We can pray. Not with the kind of prayers that are mere pleading to an unknown God. Not by saying what's right and doing what's wrong.
In Christian Science prayer is scientific and practical. And it's individual, like peace. The most potent prayer for peace is our conscious, consistent effort to shape up to true spiritual peace. It's utilizing the power God has given you and me to prove man's spiritual goodness. It's choosing unselfishness over greed, humility over pride, purity over sensuality, love over hate.
Scientific prayer is universal
What we do comes out of what we're thinking. So a peacemaker evaluates his thoughts. He pinpoints elements of conflict in his makeup. He measures what effect his thoughts and acts will have on his welfare, and on the universal welfare.
Based on his evaluation, he makes decisions. He decides to wage total war against all conflicting thoughts, but to cherish all peaceable ideas. And he implements his decision by consistent right choice.
Evaluation, decision, and implementation on this spiritual basis are important components of practical prayer. They're essential to peace on earth.
Scientific prayer includes getting to know God, divine Love, and also getting to know one's true spiritual self as God's child. It strengthens us to know divine Love, God's allness and supremacy. It shapes our lives to spiritual goodness. Jesus' prayers found their climax in the understanding of God. Science and Health says, "It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love" (p. 12). Jesus' protests "of man's likeness to God" were supported by his consistent proof of this truth. Admission of the perfect peace of God, divine Principle, and the effort to shape up to its deep meaning, man's sinless, peaceable self as God's child – these things make us peacemakers.
Perhaps we've taken responsibility for our thoughts and acts in some small ways. But full responsibility calls for warring against evil every moment.
It's impractical to pray to end wars, yet let conflicts remain unchallenged in our lives. If my friend hadn't let go fear and resentment, he couldn't have saved his business. But he prayed practically, scientifically, and the result was answered prayer.
Our desire for peace should impel us to realize peace in our individual hearts, so that all warring elements are destroyed. Such proofs of the superiority of spiritual peace over war's elements assure us that good's supremacy must eventually be felt in all hearts. We should pray, expecting to realize universal good by these individual proofs. We can hardly imagine the universal effect of scientific prayer. It can be symbolized in these words from one of Peter Freuchen's books: "What happens in a part of one ocean affects all of them. If one goes to a beach and throws a pebble into the water it will be felt wherever salt water washes the beaches."
Pattern for responsibility
If we want to be peacemakers in our homes, our communities, and in our world, we'll take the responsibility for our own thoughts and acts. This is important, because, as Mrs. Eddy says, "the characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations." So the door to world peace opens on the hinges of our individual demonstration of peace.
Everyone has a pattern for his thoughts and conduct. The child patterns after his parents. The artist might imitate Rembrandt, Renoir, or Rivera.
We need a pattern for responsibility. The outstanding pattern is the life and lessons of Christ Jesus. As a practical peacemaker, he prayed; he distinguished spiritual ideas from elements of conflict. Jesus didn't dally with evil thoughts. He made instant evaluation and decision. And he instantly implemented his purpose. He banished and destroyed evils with Christ, the true spiritual idea of God. Peace can never be won with surrender or a truce.
A peacemaker subdues destructive elements in his own thinking until they're destroyed. If he's tempted to hate, fear, or be angry, he takes sober second thought, and third and fourth, if needed, to eliminate these and fulfill his commitment to peace. Through scientific prayer he finds ways to protect himself from destructive elements appearing in others. His whole experience is brought under the protection of the Christ.
During World War II, I was an executive officer in a gun battery. It was a link in the defense of our coasts against invasion. We held target practices using high explosive ammunition. This ammunition was sure-fire and dangerous. Two of us in the battery were Christian Scientists. Because we wanted our men to be safe, we prayed before each practice to better understand God, and man's relation to God. We realized the truth of "man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love." One time an ammunition-handle made a false move. The recoiling gun caught a round of ammunition and nipped it nose first onto the concrete. The detonating charge in the nose-cone exploded, throwing shrapnel in all directions. But to everyone's amazement, the high explosive round itself didn't explode. Fifteen men were within ten feet of the gun. Yet we lost only one man. The officials couldn't believe we got off so lightly in such a dangerous situation. They calculated the odds were many thousands to one for the round to explode and destroy everyone at the gun.
Progress demands unselfishness
There was one explanation: It was a measure of scientific prayer, the realization of man's unity with God, which largely nullified the danger. Had our realization of this unity been clearer, the accident could have been avoided altogether and no one hurt.
Practical prayers for peace contribute mightily to world peace. They're felt throughout the earth. The responsible peacemaker prays. He follows Christ Jesus, his pattern for responsibility. He evaluates thoughts. He decides for the spiritual and against the warring, and he implements his purpose by controlling and destroying inner conflicts.
I have a friend who's a mountain
climber. Recently he told me that in the nineteenth century many mountains were
considered unclimbable but that today none is. New
techniques have been found which make even an overhanging cliff scalable. This
friend was a member of the 1953 expedition to
As peacemakers, you and I are members of an expedition – the human trek from war to peace. We have a goal: to exalt and love God and His pure, peaceable creation; to destroy all enemies to peace; to win peace on earth, and advance to final spiritual reality, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7).
We might not put it in the same words, but isn't this the goal we're all seeking? Aren't we all concerned and deeply involved in solving mankind's problems, including the climb to peace? In Christian Science we find new techniques for the climb, so to speak. Peace can be won, must be won. Mrs. Eddy's words are true: "Love must triumph over hate" (Science and Health, p. 43). We can admit the unreality of all conflicting elements, and support our admission with living proofs. We can follow the model pattern for responsibility, Christ Jesus. We can struggle to exalt God's pure qualities and destroy conflict in scientific, practical prayers for peace. We can subordinate selfishness to the greater goal. We can be responsible for our thoughts and acts. The question is, Do we really want peace? Only our lives can answer.
© 1966 Roy J. Linnig
All rights reserved
[The Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 1967, under the headline "Source of world peace found within each individual". (No title was given for this lecture.)]