When nations are trying to make peace, the slightest shift in the international mood can be crucial. Public outrage or fear in reaction to even an unrelated crisis may jeopardize peace efforts. In fact, some groups try to get support for their cause by manipulating the public mood through fear.
How can we help bring the right mood for peace? How can we help maintain an atmosphere where just settlements can be made? For one thing, we can stop being manipulated, or manipulating, through fear.
How do we do this? By gritting our teeth in the face of violence? No. By understanding why we don't have to be afraid.
''Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.'' n1 That's the mental state that's not vulnerable to manipulation. The words are from a Bible hymn many cling to in trouble. But the twenty-third Psalm is not just a comforting song. It gets at the root of fear - fear of want, confusion, danger, injustice. It shows God's control and presence to be a practical basis for not being manipulated or victimized.
n1 Psalms 23:4.
The spirit of this psalm is not mindless bravado - it's certainty. It's not a timid request that God join us or spare us. It's a conscious rejoicing that the infinite, divine goodness and power we call ''God'' is already at hand.
Some may say: ''Well, maybe someone several thousand years ago could feel that God is here. But even if it's my one hope, I just can't produce that feeling.''
But the certainty the Psalmist had is not something he or we produce. That mental state - that consciousness of God's absolute control and power - comes to us from God Himself.
Our silent refusal to fear, together with our openness to this power, is a form of ''effectual fervent prayer.'' And to continue in the Bible words, it ''availeth much.'' n2 As we pray in this way, we become open only to the influence of God, divine Love. And we find we are actually reflecting more of all-powerful divine intelligence. We think and act with more clarity, insight, foresight. We feel more inspired to help others.
n2 See James 5:16.
Whether we're at home watching the news, on watch in a military guard post, or in a conference room discussing a peace treaty, the certainty of God's presence need not come and go. It's part of our God-given intelligence and impels constructive, healing action. If we doubt that, we can look at the example Christ Jesus gave and asked his followers to emulate.
Knowing what he needed to know, conscious of God's power and nearness, Jesus couldn't be bullied into retreating from his mission of love. His healing work, his foresight and insight, his life and resurrection, showed the effects of knowing with certainty God's might and presence.
When Jesus said, ''Lo, I am with you alway,'' n3 he promised that the Christ, the power of God he exemplified, would not leave us and could not truly be resisted. It had to be heard and obeyed.
n3 Matthew 28:20.
As we awake to this divine power with us, we express it. We love more; we recognize the rights of each individual more readily. Fear dissolves, and we see something of the powerlessness of evil and the supremacy of good. We feel certain divine Love is governing not only us but all.
Obviously this fearless view may not come all at once. But each time we replace fear with love, we are cooperating with divine Love. And divine Love brings what's needed for peace.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, comments: ''All good that ever was written, taught, or wrought comes from God and human faith in the right. Through divine Love the right government is assimilated, the way pointed out, the process shortened, and the joy of acquiescence consummated.'' n4
n4 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 292.
Love's government, not fear, is the basis for just settlements and peace. As we allow the power of divine Love to be our rod and staff, we can't be manipulated or dominated. And we'll feel divine Love disarming the weapons of fear not just for us but for our world. That's the mood for peace. DAILY BIBLE VERSE There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear. I John 4:18