One of the most remarkable cities in the world is very small - about 130 meters square. That city is Madurodam, actually part of The Hague in the Netherlands.
It's a city where windmills turn in the wind, tour boats cruise down canals, planes taxi for takeoff at the airport, and scaffolding is in place where buildings are being worked on - all in miniature scale of 1:25. And all to the delight of visitors from around the world.
I was expecting to see all this when my wife and I visited Madurodam a few days after the Sept. 11 attacks. But I was unexpectedly touched when I learned of the city's origin. It was founded to commemorate a son lost in a World War II prisoner-of-war camp. After losing their son, George, Mr. and Mrs. J.M.L. Maduro and a friend, Mrs. B. Boon-van der Starp, founded the city in his memory in 1952. Proceeds go to organizations promoting social, cultural, or charitable causes, especially those for the benefit of young people. A local youth serves as mayor. About a million children and adults visit every year, including children from neighboring Germany.
Madurodam, while a feast for the eyes, quietly states that wonder, order, and delight endure over pain, evil, and tragedy. Somewhat ironically, Slobodan Milosevic is being tried only a few kilometers away at the International Court at The Hague.
The other thing that touched me about Madurodam is that it's a city quietly grounded in forgiveness and compassion.
The writer of Revelation also "visited" a city - the New Jerusalem. Describing what he witnessed, he wrote: "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (21:3, 4).
As the United States, with the support of Britain, Canada, and other countries, attacks the Taliban facilities in Afghanistan, this vision of harmony, order, and no pain may seem a distant dream. But it is as real as the love of a parent or the touch of a friend. Whenever we yield up bitterness, fear, condemnation, and hate we "visit" this New Jerusalem and feel its protection. Along these lines, a friend who lives in a high-rise apartment building in a large city recently commented that her sense of security includes more knowing her neighbors than in trusting a sophisticated security system.
Injustice and terrorism may seem the inevitable realities of our time. But the spiritual vision of harmony and good as being real and powerful is a potent instrument in countering these evils. Allowing ourselves to be motivated by love and goodwill doesn't make us weak and vulnerable. On the contrary, such qualities lead us to take more practical and effective steps to deal with religious violence and the social conditions that may lead to it. Divine wisdom does not include retaliation and revenge but intelligent, well-considered, moderate, and effective human action, which helps promote the well-being of everyone.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, commenting on the New Jerusalem, writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away. When you read this, remember Jesus' words, 'The kingdom of God is within you.' This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility" (pgs. 573-574).
Defeating terrorism can start with us and our determination to make this New Jerusalem the very foundation of our lives. We can feel confident that the God that the New Testament describes as being Love is guiding people of all religions and of all political views to live in harmony, justice, and peace.
... live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
II Corinthians 13:11