When a Child Asks About War

CHILDREN have many questions about war. And it doesn't take long to realize that children aren't soothed simply by telling them that what's happening is far away in another part of the world -- especially if they realize that other children in ``other parts of the world'' are caught in the middle of conflict. While it's certainly important to offer comfort and patient reassurance, a child's concern about conflict can also be an important sign -- a sign of compassion, of awareness of the world, and of the need to understand what is happening. There is intelligence, often profound insight, in a child's concern about the welfare of the world and of his own and his friends' well-being. Recognizing this, parent and child together can turn to a wholly reliable source of wisdom and direction in times of war as well as peace.

Christ Jesus taught one of his most important lessons to grown-ups through the example of a child. Matthew's Gospel records how his disciples asked the Master who is greatest in God's kingdom. In answer, Jesus called a child to him, saying, ``Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.''

The humility of a child is the humility to inquire, to remain open, to want to understand, and not simply to seek to dominate and control. Certainly there are no greater resources than the willingness of heart and mind that sincerely seeks God's direction in all the affairs of life. This attitude is the opening for prayer that responds to God's direction in answering our children's -- and our own -- concerns about war. When we think about it, a child's concern about war reflects the desire we all have to find a means of bringing healing and peace to the world. The innate spirituality that lies within every individual -- child or adult -- needs to be discovered and cultivated. In such spirituality, or spiritual response to God who is man's true Mind and Life, lies the means to heal fear and find a way to peace and genuine well being.

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Children have profound spiritual resources to confront fear and aggression in their own lives and to feel God's ever-present goodness and love. We can't simply leave our thought at the level of thinking of children as helpless, potentially overwhelmed by the magnitude of human discord. Certainly the child's ability to trust God is clear indication that his true selfhood is Godlike and governed by the divine Truth and Love that is man's creator.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells the experience of a young child who had badly injured her hand. Yet the healing of the wound through the child's response to spiritual truth was quick. Mrs. Eddy saw that it was the child's quick response to the naturalness of God's care that was central to the healing. ``Jesus loved little children,'' she writes, ``because of their freedom from wrong and their receptiveness of right. While age is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs, youth makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth.''

Times of conflict are profound testing times for all, but in meeting the child's need for comfort and assurance, we can rely upon the inner, spiritual sense that responds to Truth and Love. In fact, we need the child's questions, as they awaken us to our own ability to cultivate such pure trust in God and the willingness to respond to His unerring direction. Then the strength and goodness of our lives will be the most reassuring answer to the child's and the world's yearning for healing and peace.

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