Recently I saw a remarkable documentary about the tense, drawn-out 1994 World Cup final in which Brazil beat Italy.
Instead of focusing on the game, the cameras zoomed in on the faces (and body language) of the spectators. They not only captured shots of joyful Brazilians (when they finally won) and agonized Italians (when they finally lost) but also "neutral" fans in African countries, Arab lands, and Asian nations, as well as Europeans, North and South Americans, and others from around the globe – all watching with the same intense emotional investment in the game's many twists and turns.
This illustrated how much of a global event the World Cup is. You might even say it hints at the universal unity across nations, ethnicities, and denominations for which peace-loving world citizens crave. It is estimated that 1 billion viewers from all continents will watch the Berlin final on July 9.
One could ask, Where does this glorious taste of global unity go during the three years and eleven months between World Cup competitions?
In the 2002 final, Brazil beat Germany in Yokahama, Japan – see how global it is? – and since then I have been increasingly realizing that this unity doesn't go anywhere. I have come to believe that the unity of one billion diverse people simultaneously watching a single event is an echo of a deeper, vaster unity that is everywhere every day of every year. I would describe this as the universal unity of all men and women united in oneness with God, infinite good.
This is a powerful idea. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy – who founded Christian Science – wrote: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed" (p. 340).
I had a chance modestly to test this out in my community when I was just becoming familiar with the idea of universal unity under one all-good God.
I had my window open one summer afternoon to let in the cool breeze. Alongside the breeze, something more heated wafted in. It was an intense argument between men of different cultural backgrounds. I couldn't make out the words, but the heated tone of the dialogue was clear.
Out of concern for the men, and for the sake of the neighborhood, I decided to pray. I considered the mental picture of two minds at loggerheads and decided to disagree strongly with that picture, based on the idea of their actual co-unity with the divine Mind, God.
I reasoned that if there is only one Mind, as there must be if God is Mind, and if both men are united to that one Mind as its ideas, then they must, in fact, be in perfect agreement with each other. As I reached this conclusion, their voices quickly calmed and then went silent.
I felt my consciousness of the unity of one infinite God, good, had indeed "unified men," or at least supported them to express something of that inherent unity.
In this German-hosted World Cup, Serbia and Montenegro are playing as one team despite the latter's recent vote to split from the former; Angola met in a match with their former Portuguese colonizers; and it was tantalizingly possible that the United States could have played Iran. In football unity can transcend historical animosities and political differences.
I like to think of this as a wonderful indication of better things to come as increasing recognition of the unity of God and all creation brings progress toward the goal of peace on earth.