Reports earlier this week that Turkey was building up its forces along Iraq's northern border underscore once again how interconnected nations are and how impossible it is to look at any one country as a totally separate entity. Those interconnections become increasingly important when tensions build up and what's been called the "fog of war" leads to actions based on fear and mistrust.
It's in everyone's best interest to keep this "fog" from spreading, and that's where your prayers and mine can make a difference. To pray is to affirm in our hearts that we (and everyone) are under the government of an all-good God and that love and peace are natural to each of us.
World conditions would argue against harmony and on behalf of division, hatred, and strife. But the Bible teaches of God as divine Love, as One – and that oneness doesn't fragment itself into hateful factions. Instead, it embraces all in its infinite oneness.
A story in the Bible describes how love and compassion eliminate not just the fog of war but war itself. The prophet Elisha and his servant were set upon by Syrian troops while they were in the city of Dothan, because the Syrian king thought Elisha was a spy for Israel. Through God's help they were protected, and the Syrian troops were led out of the city into the hands of the king of Israel, whom Elisha served.
Delighted to see his enemies within his grasp, the king asked Elisha, "Shall I smite them?" Instead of agreeing to the slaughter, Elisha told him to feed the soldiers and send them away. The king of Israel obeyed, and the Bible's account concludes, "So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel" (II Kings 6:21, 23).
Elisha's compassion – and the king's willingness to follow his guidance – cut through the fog of war with an act of love at a time when their enemies were truly at their mercy. Instead of doing what seemed obvious – killing their foes – they were willing to trust God's guidance. Their reward was peace.
Although he might not have put it in just these terms, to me, Elisha was trusting in the protection of God, divine Love, not just for himself and his servant but for all the people involved in this incident. He perceived his opponents not as ciphers to be destroyed, but as being precious to God just as he was. And a statement in Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" describes what happens when people do this: "The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity" (p. 571).
To support peace in Iraq and the region around it, we, too, need to strive toward that higher humanity ourselves and affirm its presence in the Iraq region also.
Here are some simple ideas, first steps, regarding living peace:
•If someone says something mean to you today, make a point of at least thinking in terms of mercy and patience instead of calling him a dope.
•If you do something stupid, forgive yourself even as you plan not to do that again.
•If an account of the war makes you feel discouraged or angry, refuse to give up hope. There is one God, and this one God can and will "unite all interests in the one divinity."
Daily affirming God's loving presence and omnipotent power to save may demand an almost military discipline. But this discipline will lead away from a mentality beset by war and into peace. If each of us takes this step and sticks with it, we will dissipate the cloud of war with a cloud of love. And the resulting peace will begin to encompass everyone.
They shall beat their swords
into plowshares, and their
spears into pruninghooks:
nation shall not lift up sword
against nation, neither shall
they learn war any more.