One supreme authority
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Reports of violence against unarmed civilians continue to filter into the press. When violence is perpetrated by a group unassociated with a government, it is called terrorism. But what about violence against civilians carried out by government-sponsored military organizations? In Kosovo, Bosnia, Sudan, South Africa, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and other places, military personnel have assassinated unarmed civilians without the benefit of a trial, in the name of promoting government interests or preserving national security. On Nov. 22, over 7,000 people gathered to protest the United States Army's School of the Americas' role in training foreign military personnel, who later participated in atrocities against civilians in their respective countries. How can one pray for security without abuse of power? I've found it helpful to begin praying by affirming that God is the Supreme Commander. God is the Supreme Being, governing all, from the highest general to the private. The Greek word translated Lord means "supreme in authority." The ultimate authority for both soldier and civilian is God, the divine Principle. God communicates and enforces His authority through spiritual statutes. God's laws are impartial. Universal. They don't favor one nation over another. Human efforts to dominate, suppressing the rights of another, have no divine authority. Eventually, we will see God arrest the perpetrator, and a higher sense of justice will be restored. Those in military service are not exempt from God's requirements. In fact, high moral and ethical standards promote wisdom and good judgment. When we seek to know that each individual has the ability to discern and understand God's commands, this is prayer that supports the establishment of divine justice and brings protection to those involved in conflict. What if we believe that military policy, or a direct military order, is opposed to Principle, to God? Then, our continued communion with divine Mind can reveal a solution unique to the situation. This need not conflict with complying with human authority. Conflict and confusion belong to the human mind, while the divine Mind promotes clarity and unity of purpose. What about abuse of power? It is not too much to ask that we pray daily for humankind to embody the same humility and humanity that Christ Jesus expressed. This is prayer to protect everyone from hating and being hated, and from the pride of power. It breaks aggressive and oppressive influences. Friends of mine saw the power of prayer to neutralize violent intent several years ago. Two police officers in a foreign country attempted to abduct a family at gunpoint. The mother immediately began praying, and saw the fact that God is the supreme authority. Their young daughter escaped and ran for help. Inexplicably, the family's car would not start, so the parents were still there when help arrived. The officers were dispersed, and then the car started. Disappearances and civilian killings were prevalent at the time, and the family attributed their safety to God and to prayer. But what of those who have already become the victims of violence? How do we respond to abuses of human power? I find the story of the prophet Jeremiah inspiring. Jeremiah was appointed by God to protest the immoral government of his day. Uncovering corruption, selfishness, and sin, Jeremiah persisted despite the persecution this brought upon him. His method of protest was not a matter of human will but of obedience to divine decree. Jeremiah's prophecies were fulfilled, and the corrupt government and its people were taken captive by the Babylonians. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, adopted neither a pacifist nor a militarist stand. She urged obedience to human law and God's supreme authority. In 1902, at the close of the Boer War in South Africa, she wrote, "It does not follow that power must mature into oppression; indeed, right is the only real potency; and the only true ambition is to serve God and to help the race" ("Message to The Mother Church for 1902," pg. 3). Let's pray at this time for God's kingdom to reign "in earth, as it is in heaven," and for the abuse of human power to cease.