Northern Ireland's quest for peace

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

The IRA (Irish Republican Army) recently announced a complete, unconditional cessation of what it has called "the armed struggle" in Northern Ireland. IRA leaders have claimed they will now follow a political path, ending more than 30 years of violence.

While greeted with skepticism in some quarters, politicians around the world have welcomed the news. British Prime Minister Tony Blair called it "a step of unparalleled magnitude." President Bush spoke of "unequivocal commitment to the rule of law and to the renunciation of all paramilitary and criminal activities."

I grew up in Northern Ireland, and although I've been living in the US for the past seven years, I've kept in close touch with family and friends. Almost every week I would ask, "How are things in Northern Ireland?" Sometimes their replies were hopeful, sometimes discouraging.

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After the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998, a government was formed, consisting of politicians from different shades of political opinion, including former members of the IRA. Terrorism continued, peace crumbled, and this fragile body slowly fell apart, until the past few years when the area has been ruled once again from London.

As I see it, much of the strife in the world today involves differing views on the nature of God - how to worship God, how to serve God. During the height of the IRA bombing campaign in the 1970s, I would often rail at God, "How can You permit such atrocities?" It is a cry often heard in many parts of the world.

As I studied spiritual literature and prayed, I began to see more clearly that, as the Bible reported centuries ago, God is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire, and that God is of purer eyes than to behold evil (see II Kings 19:11, 12; Hab. 1:13).

God did not create terror or terrorists; God did not make any of His children violent, belligerent, warlike. Instead, God created His children in His image and likeness, with qualities of concern, compassion, cooperation, and love.

Love is the greatest power in the world today. I saw it in the aftermath of bombings in Belfast when people of all faiths or none would come together to help clean up and comfort. We saw this same potent power of love expressed after 9/11, the South Asian tsunami, and the bombs in London and Egypt.

Throughout the Bible there are instances of the power of love overcoming the vicissitudes and challenges of the human condition, through the education and evolution of human thought out of itself to the contemplation of the effect of God's government. The activity of God is the creative force of divine Love, evidenced in every right activity in our lives and in the overcoming of evil in all its forms. The Bible says, "Perfect love casteth out fear," and Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "... Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 517).

The dismantling of error starts within the heart of each of us when we recognize the innate purity and innocence of each dweller on this planet. We can stop ascribing nationalistic characteristics or religious shortcomings to those of other faiths and instead start acknowledging and rejoicing in what unifies us - the power of Love, the power of forgiveness. Love dismantles distrust, hate, and fear. Everyone responds to love. Jesus said, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." The Apostle Paul said, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor."

No matter what is thrown at us, terrorism in all its forms, we can pour much more into the scale of love. We can begin to see the beauty, joy, health, well-being inherent in others, no matter what the physical or external conditions are trying to tell us about our nature. Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares" (Science and Health, page 574).

Christian Science reveals God's power of love in action without limits, with no boundaries. This power of Love is the antidote to terrorism, the spiritual solution. Love is the greatest power in the world.

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