Resolving conflicts: personal and international
We were like fire and ice. When I was irritated, I would clam up. When she was annoyed with me, she would tell me in no uncertain terms. We might not have done anything about our incompatibility were it not that we were both Christians and felt we weren't living our religion very well if we couldn't practice brotherly love.
It's ten years later now, and we're close friends. We still are very different, but there's no trace of the old irritation. Our becoming friends showed both of us the healing power of prayer.
We prayed every day about getting along. I thought of the beatitude ''Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.'' n1 Someone once pointed out that it's not enough just to be a peace lover; we have to be peace-makers. We can love peace without doing much to bring it about. But peacemaking requires effort. For me that effort was to pray until I could understand more of the true brotherhood of man and practice it. I prayed along these lines: ''Dear Father, I know that You are divine Love. No matter how bad things are between me and another person, I know that there is a law of Love that unites us in true fellowship. We're not incompatible mortals battling out our differences. The man of Your creating, which is our true, spiritual nature, inherits all the qualities You give him: harmony, satisfaction, enduring love.''
n1 Matthew 5:9.
Effective prayer doesn't try to make God agree with one side of an argument. Rather, it includes a willingness to give up personal views for what God knows of His universe and man. I declared that the thought of warring, clashing people wasn't a spiritual or divine view. The truth is that there are not many personal minds trying to live in peace; each individual, in his true being, expresses the harmony and wisdom of the one divine Mind, his Father. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''When we realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders man's normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns.'' n2
n2 Science and Health, pg. 205.
When my friend and I didn't see eye to eye, I would turn to God and remember my prayer, acknowledging that Love is the one Mind that governs man. My prayer wasn't limited to words; it had to be lived. My friend and I made a special effort not to provoke each other. We tried to understand our different upbringings. We praised each other for the good we saw. In short, we were practicing brotherly love. It soon became natural to be loving, and that was the beginning of a deep friendship.
There are, of course, far worse conflicts than the one my friend and I had. Hostilities between nations or warring factions, such as the disagreements between the superpowers or the current civil strife in Central America and the Middle East, present immense challenges.
No matter how aggressive the quarrels are, the culprit is still, fundamentally, the belief that there are many independent minds in conflict. But no conflict is beyond the healing power of the one Mind. Whether we're personally in the thick of a quarrel or are observing it in the world at large, healing is possible. Deeply felt, silent prayer, in which we acknowledge the supremacy of divine Love, all-powerful Mind, and man as His likeness, does help to deflate the self-oriented, materialistic elements of thought that spawn conflict.
It may not be easy to give up selfish or violent behavior. But we are not working to change ourselves or others through sheer personal effort or good will. Through prayer we feel the divine influence of the healing, saving Christ coming to our consciousness as the idea of brotherhood, righteousness, honesty, peaceableness. It's God Himself, through His Christ, that gives us the desire to heal strife and the spiritual understanding that recognizes the harmony imparted by the one Mind.
In the closing paragraph of an article called ''How Strife May be Stilled,'' Mrs. Eddy writes, ''God is Father, infinite, and this great truth, when understood in its divine metaphysics, will establish the brotherhood of man, end wars, and demonstrate 'on earth peace, good will toward men.' '' n3
n3 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pg. 279.
Big and small conflicts can be resolved through prayer. DAILY BIBLE VERSE As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.