One aspect of the many conflicts going on in the world is historical. Over time, differences between groups, regions, and countries often fuel longstanding problems. For people who aren't affected by those ongoing issues, the hatred and fury can seem baffling. But it's very vivid to the individuals who have lost relatives, even in ancient conflict, or who have been told in vivid terms of past family suffering.
For example, the conflict between Shiite and Sunni dates back to issues of Muhammad's successor in the mid-7th century, and continues to fuel discord 14 centuries later. There are people of the Balkans who look back at the devastating Serbian defeat by the Turks at the "Field of Blackbirds" in 1389 as a basis for resentment today.
How do we begin to heal these conflicts? In prayer we can open our hearts to the gift of God's love and grace, and realize that this is His gift for all people, including those who are struggling to break free of the past. If we are even slightly willing, the possibilities to feel His grace, and to help others feel it, are endless.
One example of God's grace was articulated by the Apostle Paul, who wrote, "The truth is that no condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are 'in' Christ Jesus. For the new spiritual principle of life 'in' Christ Jesus lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death" (Rom. 8:1, 2, J.B. Phillips).
The Christ, as God's message of good, transcends religious denomination and is the spiritual truth of God's love for His people. To acknowledge the power of this love and see its relevance to world peace helps lift everyone out of the "vicious circle of sin and death." It frees us from the cycles of history and the notion that history repeats itself.
There is no need to feel bound or dominated by history, whether it's the history of regional conflict, alcohol abuse, victimization, or economic ups and downs. As we understand the beauty and holiness of our relationship to God, we are freed from all the limitations that history would impose on us.
Jesus is quoted as saying, "Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17, Revised Standard Version). The kingdom or government of God is here. It is within reach for people, their governments, the nations. We can turn from all the rules and baggage of human history to the law of life in God, the Father-Mother.
Mary Baker Eddy, the author of the textbook on Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," wrote, "The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged" ("Retrospection and Introspection," p. 22).
We revise the human history as we release it through prayer from defining us – and all people – in any way except as living in God's kingdom. God's all-inclusive love removes the material record and replaces it with healing. It reveals to us a life free of hatred – past or present – and filled with divine Love's tender care.