Fighting over territory

The situation in the Falkland Islands is one more example of how territoriality can lead to international problems. But territoriality isn't just a distant phenomenon. It appears in our own lives--as a salesperson's fear that someone else will encroach on his territory, as a battle between street gangs, as a householder's argument with a neighbor whose dog keeps digging up his garden.

While there are times when we must defend our rights, how we do so, or how we resolve the problem, is important. And every individual problem solved can help us pray more effectively about the larger, international conflicts. Unquestionably, the best approach is through love.

At the heart of any territorial conflict is the fear that somehow one has been or will be deprived of good. Inherent in this view is the belief that man is a finite creature struggling to live in a material world. If this were true, conflict between individuals and groups would seem inevitable.

But through study of the Bible we come to see that man is actually spiritual and receives all good from his loving Father-Mother God. Humanly, we may be Catholics or Protestants, Jews or Arabs, black or white. But God sees us as His perfect, spiritual ideas and cherishes each of us impartially. God's love reaches mankind through His healing, saving Christ, and through receptivity to the Christ we are guided into ways that lead to peace.

Resorting to human will and its need to dominate offers little genuine comfort or security. But the Christ resolves territorial conflicts through the power of God's all-inclusive love. Although this may seem to take time, love can and does succeed. Looking for Christliness in those around us and praying to express more of the divine nature ourselves are major steps toward peace.

Through Christ, the fear that the land or status that seem so important could be stolen is replaced by a new understanding of God as infinite Love, bestowing all good. Christ Jesus assured his followers: ''In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.'' n1

n1 John 14:2.

The power of the Christ, felt through prayer, enables us to perceive that this ''place'' is not a material location that we must fight to protect. We truly live in God, the only Mind of the universe, as the Bible implies. Man is His spiritual offspring, His idea, forever secure in this Mind. As we begin to understand this, we find the right resolution of conflict because we have, to some extent, given up the belief that there are many finite minds that somehow must be persuaded to reach a compromise.

In a short article entitled ''How Strife may be Stilled,'' Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, declares: ''The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue--'Thou shalt have no other gods before me'--obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife. God is the divine Mind. Hence the sequence: Had all peoples one Mind, peace would reign.'' n2

n2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 279.

Whatever we allow to govern our thoughts could be called our ''god.'' If we declare that because such and such happened we will never forgive a certain group, we are worshiping a false god and helping to perpetuate conflict. Making a god of land is the same type of mistake. God is universal and omnipresent; He cannot be confined to one place, nor can the mere possession of a certain piece of land provide genuine safety or stability. To believe that land is the source of safety is to accept the suggestion that man is a finite entity who lives in a material world. This rejects our real status as members of God's family.

Our true security comes from accepting and living the spiritual fact that we abide in ever-present Mind. If we are absorbed in hating someone or something, we are cutting ourselves off - in belief - from the safety of divine Mind, Love, by breaking the first commandment - by having another god.

Praying diligently to know the reality of the one Mind, God, and to have no god but Him, is the key to resolving conflict. As we put this truth to work in the small details of our lives, we are able to prove it for ourselves. This gives us greater confidence in striving through prayer to bring healing to our world. DAILY BIBLE VERSE We have one Father, even God. John 8:41

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