DELAYS, political posturing, walkouts, often swirl around attempts to negotiate conflicts. But negotiation is better than hot conflict. As the great Sir Winston Churchill said, ``Talking jaw-jaw is better than war-war.
Patience, and the mental resilience to stand in the arena and to face what seems to be endless intransigence, are great attributes. Such ability usually comes through experience and maturity coupled with a large awareness of the ever-present possibility of accomplishing great things. At times, when I suspect my patience would have been strained to the breaking point in attempting to negotiate a resolution to a world crisis, a seasoned international figure finds an opening, a new position, a fresh idea or
method that leads to the next plateau of agreement. Maybe it's a cease-fire saving hundreds of lives, a way to move food supplies through firing lines to save refugees, or just getting representatives from two countries, ethnic groups, or political parties to talk with each other about talking with each other.
Negotiations are not always so dramatic. Usually they're more prosaic, never reaching the nightly news: A driver yields to a car merging onto the highway. A person holds the post office door open for someone carrying a big package . . . and then lets him go ahead in line. A mother and daughter settle on a time the daughter has to be home from a party. But even ``common courtesy and cooperation stand out in times when alienation and selfishness seem the accepted public and private norm.
The world is full of political, religious, geographical, and personal conflicts yet to be resolved. But world history records countless solved conflicts. Daily, people respond to a natural tendency to negotiate in good faith and eventually to find ways to get along. Why? Because of the presence of good.
The founder of this newspaper, and the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, has a lot to say about good. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes, ``Evil has no power, no intelligence, for God is good, and therefore good is infinite, is All.
This spiritual fact is actually the simple beginning of effective, reasoning prayer. Turning to God, who is all-powerful, eternal good, brings practical help to the process of conflict resolution. Because God is good, universal good, such a resolution must be unselfish and free of stubborn mortal will. Guided by prayer, human endeavor is enriched and can drop the limitations that seem to be imposed by history or pessimistic predictions.
In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes there is a brief account of a city besieged by ``a great king and of ``a poor wise man who ``by his wisdom delivered the city. A fresh understanding of God as good and of man as His good creation brings to bear the Biblical wisdom that saves cities and countries and the dignity of individual lives.
Christ Jesus revealed man's true nature as the spiritual offspring of God, his Father and ours. Through his perfect example and his tremendous healing works, he brought to light the great fact that man is not really a selfish, sinful mortal, destined to perpetual conflict. Jesus presented a higher, true, view of man's real selfhood as wholly good and harmonious because man is created by God. And he taught that we can begin to demonstrate this truth by treating others the way we would have them treat us, forgiving and forgiving again, striving to be a peacemaker.
Our cities, our politics, our homes, our daily lives, are more joyful and peaceful when we pray and seek to follow the Way-shower, who has proved for us that the resolution--the healing-- of conflict is indeed possible right now.