On not fighting the little wars

Recent charges of war hysteria in the United States raise anxious questions. Would increased U.S. military spending and a Strait of hormuz bristling with military might head off war? Would limited conflict clear the air and restore balance to international relations?

While some form of military preparedness is reassuring at this stage of the world's development, we first of all need strong spiritual armament.". . . it is not curtailed in peace, surrendered in conquest, nor laid down at the feet of progress through the hands of omnipotence," says Mary Baker Eddy n1 of this vital armament. "And why? Because it is 'on earth peace, good will toward men, ' -- a cover and a defence adapted to all men, all nations, all times, climes, and races." n2

n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science

n2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,m p. 127.

During periods of international tension, the scales may seem weighted on the side of patriotic fervor and desire to prove one's superiority to "the enemy." But these feelings canescalate until we find ourselves saying -- and ultimately doing -- things we never expected to do. We are carried along by a kind of emotional groundswell that may or may not be a wise response to events.

In order to temper such impulses, we can begin a war on war -- and do it right in the smallest details of our lives. We can discipline ourselves to be Christlike toward others and to express love for all.We can refuse to engage in "wars" with friends or family members, whether these be short-term skirmishes or drawn-out guerrila warfare over past or present dissatisfactions. And we can feel compassion for emerging nations striving to achieve an identity, try to understand the social and political factors that motivate change.

"Big" wars usually start over small insults that, left unhealed, lead to larger grounds for suspicion. But if affection and mutual understanding prevail in all our dealings, we help eliminate -- or at least mitigate -- high emotion and confusion. Impartial love is the best means ever developed for the prevention of war. To practice this love requires a willingness to step out from our own fears and cares. We can view the world in a broader, more spiritual context. We can begin to understand that the universe and man are God's spiritual creation, not material but unlimited, immortal, and forever at peace.

As we develop and use our valuable armament -- "good will toward men" -- we won't want to contaminate it with a single drop of bigotry or hatred. We'll want to avoid stereotyping any race or national group as inferior or evil. We can strive to become better at resisting the desire to "counterattack" against someone who has threatened or injured us, and we can be willing to face the consequences of our own acts instead of saying we were led to these mistakes by someone else.

When we align our sights through the lens of divine Love, seeing man's Godlike nature, we begin to discern with compassion something of the great longing other people have to understand life and preserve their heritage. Instead of reacting in fear and anger, we can put into practice our love, the most powerful weapon of all. This love for God and for man gives us the discernment to choose the least inflammatory but most effective course of action. We are able to avoid the temptation to gloat over the failures of others, and we can negotiate on the main points of contention with a deep appreciation for justice. This is as true for nations as it is for families. A prophet explains that true success will come about "not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." n3

n3 Zechariah 4:6.

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