Freedom from tribalism in Kenya

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

At work a couple of summers ago we had a student intern from Kenya. We also met her parents when they came to visit. Listening to the recent news reports about the violence in Kenya, a number of us felt distressed because we had no way of knowing if they were affected or if they were all safe. But that connection with them made us care about what was going on in Kenya in a deeper way than we might have otherwise. Our friends were with people who might also be afraid, and with others who might be tempted by violence. We wanted all of them to be safe.

One experience from Jesus' life that can be helpful to prayer in these cases is told in Luke's Gospel. Jesus had openly challenged the people who criticized his ministry – so much so that they became violent. The Bible says that they "rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill ... that they might cast him down headlong" (Luke 4:29).

Clearly – it seems – Jesus was in serious trouble. Would there be a dramatic confrontation on the edge of the precipice? Instead, in the next verse, the Bible simply says, "He passing through the midst of them went his way." It's possible that his conviction of God's presence as a preserving power and of his unity with God made him fearless and gave him the intelligence and wisdom simply to walk away. But a less discussed part of the story is that the angry people were saved from doing something violent that they might have regretted later.

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And, in fact, a blog on the Reuters news service was headlined "Kenyans feel horror at what they've done" (Jan. 17). The writer expressed the hope that things would turn around before things got as violent as they did in Rwanda.

As we pray for friends in Kenya or other troubled parts of the world, we affirm that under God's government things can turn around quickly – that violence isn't ever the solution. We can also pray to know that all people who are affected by the situation can be fearless because they have Jesus' example to follow. Like him, they are inseparable from God, and they have the intelligence and wisdom to know what to do if they're in danger.

The knowledge that God is Mind, the one divine intelligence that governs all, is also a great comfort. This Mind, being one, isn't at war with itself, it isn't confused or angry. It knows only harmony. Nor are there especially favored tribes, races, professions – whatever – in Mind. Since there is only one Mind, there isn't a second or third mind to compete – to be smarter or inferior, to win or to lose. In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "The one Spirit includes all identities" (p. 333).

This concept also helps alleviate the dangers of tribalism, which is a big factor in the current troubles. Some tribes have more standing than others; some, such as the Kikuyu, are even in danger because of perceptions about past deeds. But if "the one Spirit includes all identities," it's possible to find a way to overcome those prejudices and to find peace with each other.

To achieve this may not be easy. But another characteristic of God is that He is Love – infinite, divine, unfailing Love, and as His children, each of us is the expression of Love. Living in accord with divine Love opens our hearts to people's needs. It enables even antagonists to work together to establish peace.

Love provides ways for people to find commonalities, to be part of the solution instead of continuing the problem. These commonalities bring each of us back to the one Mind and its purpose for Kenya and even for our individual lives. And because that Mind is also divine Love, we can pray confidently for our world, knowing that divine Love can give us only good and blessing. It can lead us only to peace.

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