Of all the seeds of war, revenge seems to be among the most heavily and widely scattered in the soil of thought. The uprooting of it is urgently needed. If a lasting settlement is ever to be found for the Persian Gulf conflict, efforts at instituting and maintaining some sort of truce need to be coupled with an exposing and removing of the deeply embedded causes of conflict. Not just the territorial and ideological disputes but the underlying envy, pride, hatred - and revenge - that feed them.
But our purpose in this column isn't primarily to report to you on the problem. It is to invite you to engage in prayer - and to share an idea or two on how you might go about it. In the degree that we remove, through prayer, the seeds of war from the overall mental terrain of human consciousness, we help prepare the ground for the nurturing of peace.
When Christ Jesus was not received by a village of Samaritans, his disciples suggested, ''Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them . . . ?'' He replied simply: ''Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'' 1 Jesus' response was the very opposite of vengeful. It was, in itself, a prayer, suffused with compassion and forgiveness.
For us to effectively replace revenge with forgiveness, we need to understand something of God's nature. As we can gather from the Scriptures, He is Love and infinite intelligence - the one Mind - and He is All. And man is His likeness. It is natural, then, for mankind to express His ever-lovely nature. The Mind that is Love provides no territory of thought for revenge to take root in. To the extent that we fill our consciousness with a recognition of God's nature as Love and Mind and All, and reject all that is unlike Love as illegitimate and having no divine basis - to the extent we do this in relation to a particular challenge, we are praying with scientific precision. And our prayers have power. They bless more than just those in our immediate vicinity.
Although key political figures in the Gulf conflict may not be aware of this, and their standpoint of thinking may be very different from our own, we have Christ Jesus' extraordinary example of love and forgiveness, which points you and me to the same divine power that he was drawing upon and proved to be so effective. And we can reflect that power through our prayers.The resolution of conflict in the Middle East, or wherever, isn't so much a matter of praying to change the minds of individuals who may seem locked into revenge. It's more a matter of discerning the allness and oneness of divine Mind, which never created revenge or a reason for it. And this prayer must inevitably help transform thought to a higher basis.
Of course, if our prayers are to be genuinely effective, we might well sift through our own thinking and reject any vengeful elements we have allowed, perhaps unwittingly, to take root.
Mary Baker Eddy, a nineteenth- and early twentieth-century follower of Christ Jesus, discovered the scientific basis of his healing mission. In this discovery , which she named Christian Science, she found that the power of Love, of divine Mind, had diminished not at all since the time of Jesus. And that power is the very thing needed to uproot and dispose of the elements of thought that cause so much suffering. Mrs. Eddy writes, ''Self-seeking, envy, passion, pride, hatred, and revenge are cast out by the divine Mind which heals disease.'' 2
While the casting out of evil by divine Mind is inevitable and ultimately inescapable, it is not automatic. It is your job and mine to know what Mind is and what it does, to prayerfully acknowledge its healing action, to mentally reject revenge, and to cultivate in thought and action its very opposite - love.
1 Luke 9:54-56. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 445.