When I hear about Afghanistan in the news, I feel particularly close to the conflict and situation there. Partly because my country, the United States, has been directly involved since 2001. And partly because a good friend has been working on United Nations missions and other programs in Kabul during the past six years. Reports of unrest leading up to the elections have given me a strong desire to see a peaceful transfer of power with stability and hope characterizing Afghanistan’s future.
President Obama pledged in his State of the Union message that the close of this year would mark the end of the US mission in Afghanistan. Yet the US and some NATO allies have been negotiating a plan for maintaining troops in the country to train security forces and to continue to investigate terrorism activities. The outcome of the election will play a part in determining the relationship going forward.
Amid the fear in mainstream news media for the elections this Saturday, glimmers of hope shine through: reports that violence is actually lower now than at any point in the past two years, hearing of Afghans’ enthusiasm for the political process leading up to elections, and news of recent political rallies that have passed without incident.
Focusing on these glimmers of hope helps me remember to contribute to what Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, called a “consciousness of spiritual power.” This was what Jesus demonstrated with his work of healing and teaching. Mrs. Eddy writes about the example that Jesus set: “This spiritual power, healing sin and sickness, was not confined to the first century; it extends to all time...” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 189). My prayers for Afghanistan have been affirming that a firm foundation of Truth can overcome corruption and violence and can usher in comfort and peace. Rather than a precarious situation of vulnerability, the spiritual power, stability, and strength needed can outshine any attempts to sabotage the elections.
I’m often tempted when I hear news reports on another Taliban bombing or attack to e-mail my friend right away and make sure things are all right with her. And while it’s reassuring when she replies, I’m also reminded that the news I hear is usually just one small part of the story. Growing up reading The Christian Science Monitor has taught me to look for the glimmers of hope, peace, and truth that are present in the news, rather than to be mesmerized by reports that build up a picture of fear and precariousness.
This idea from the Bible has been guiding my thinking lately: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
This helps when news reports are alarming or cynicism and apathy argue that there is no hope for real and lasting change. It speaks to having confidence that anywhere in the world where violence tries to overshadow truth and love, a spiritual power is present and can be discovered. Committing to having an untroubled heart in any situation, whether local or global, contributes to the collective consciousness of good that is a spiritual power present today and always.