In nearly every story about North Korea's recent tests of missiles and its explosion of a nuclear device, you'll find words such as "isolationist," "intractable," "impoverished." This small country, located so strategically, has threatened South Korea, and in other ways has shown that it will not take kindly to the world's efforts to rein it in. It seems to crave being outside the group of nations, but it also wants to be noticed – on its own terms.
The brutality of the regime is well documented, and there is some thought that the current aggressiveness represents political jockeying within the government because of leader Kim Jong Il's health problems. Yet to say all these things and dismiss this country or, worse still, go away hating it, is not good enough.
To do so reminds me of Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. A man was set upon by robbers, beaten, and left for dead. Two people, one a priest and the other a Levite, came along the road, saw him, and passed by. But a third traveler, a Samaritan, stopped, and going to a fair bit of trouble, took care of the man, probably saving his life. To me, our prayers for the world and its nations are like stopping to save the man who was beaten and robbed.
In a specific country, perhaps its people have been robbed of peace, of freedom, of adequate food, safety, warmth, or health. The type of "robber" doesn't matter as much as what one does in response – how willing one is to reach out in prayer to those in need, and perhaps even offer aid if a legitimate opportunity arises. Prayer is a powerful spiritual and mental force for good because it is actually empowered by God, divine intelligence. It rests on the conviction that healing of all kinds is possible, practical, and provable.
Such prayer can begin by valuing the individuals in each nation, recognizing their spirituality and position as sons and daughters of God. This prayer, along with the conviction that all are included in God's love, will begin to break down the mental barriers that could render people passive or unable to think for themselves.
God is the one and only Mind, and all the world's people are His children, subject only to Him. Divine intelligence cannot be imprisoned by ignorance, fear, or manipulation. And neither can Divinity's offspring. Seeking to understand this is prayer that will open the eyes of those who have been robbed by an unjust government, by passivity, or fear.
In "Other ways than by war," Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "The government of divine Love is supreme. Love rules the universe, and its edict hath gone forth: 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me,' and 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' " ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 278).
Proving the practical reality of Love's government isn't always easy, even if we're just talking about the universe of our offices or homes – and even more so when speaking of a nation that has few Western visitors. Yet, diligent prayer helps provide an atmosphere where healing can begin to take place. It can lift off the weight of judgmentalism or self-righteousness among the parties involved, and replace it with a willingness to open up to one another. It can bring new inspiration to a country's government and provide fresh opportunities for progress.
In thinking about North Korea, it's helpful to affirm the presence of divine wisdom on all sides, so that false motives can be uncovered and removed, wherever they occur. Most important, perhaps, is the possibility that our prayers will enable all parties to leave the past behind, will lead to more stable relationships and better understanding among them.
No matter what is going on behind the scenes in North Korea, each praying individual can recognize that the nation and its people are under the care of divine Love and its government, because God is everywhere. And the other nations of the world, especially the group of five countries that have been striving to develop a relationship with North Korea, are also being guided by this Love. Such loving prayer, diligently offered, will promote peace and blessings for all.