AT a peace lecture I was attending the speaker pointed out a need to rejoice in the differences between nations and their peoples. Recent changes in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union, however, have brought to light a whole series of localized differences that seem to herald not joy but violent conflict. Nor are such hotbeds of nationalism confined to Europe. Tribal and ethnic clashes currently afflict many parts of the world.
As nationals of a particular region of the world, or members of a particular race, we often think proudly of the soul of our own people. If by that we mean we are appreciative of qualities our people exhibit that are beneficial to all humanity, this is reasonable, even praiseworthy. Often, though, the sense of a people's soul refers to their superior importance or else to a destiny of suffering. And these views do present problems.
The Bible, however, teaches that Soul is God, good. And God never causes or allows suffering; He is independent of any favoritism or partiality. How can infinite God either be monopolized by any one culture or neglectful of any? In truth men and women of all cultures have access to spiritual identity and individuality because in reality man is the son of God, the idea of divine Soul.
Christ Jesus evidenced an understanding of Soul, of God, that went beyond the proud national sense that his own fellow countrymen entertained. In relating the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus was deliberately choosing to illustrate true neighborliness by using the example of an individual from a people looked down upon by those who heard him tell the parable. Jesus showed how unconditional kindness impelled the Samaritan to aid an injured man whose own people had passed him by. By his approval of the S amaritan's actions, Jesus confirmed that the living of unconditional love makes men truly soulful, irrespective of race.
Whatever our background, if the temptation does come to associate soul exclusively or primarily with our own people, we need to think again. Soul is not a humanly inherited attribute of nationhood, race, or religion. The Bible teaches that man is the image and likeness, or reflection, of God. It is this divinely inherited spiritual nature of the real man that is Soul's bestowal. Because all of us are that man in reality, this certainly includes the true identity of one's fellow countrymen. But we can gen uinely know this only to the degree that we understand it to be equally true for all others also! In proportion as humanity does come to know this more universally, warfare will become a thing of the past.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, speaks of such an end to warfare in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes, ``It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established."
Prayerfully increasing our understanding of the oneness of God--the Mind and Father that is divine Soul--doesn't deprive us of a genuine ``joy of differences. Rather it enables us to look for, and find, diversity of expression in Soul's oneness.
Our individual and national differences, seen in this spiritual light, involve no grounds for dispute but harmlessly embrace the unshakable peace of the oneness of Soul.