A starting point for world peace

IT'S becoming increasingly clear that the job of bringing about and maintaining world peace can't be left solely to organizations and institutions. There's an essential role for the individual, a role that has too often been hampered by a sense of futility. Fortunately, there are increasing signs that the individual is desiring to take a more active part in the peace process. Religion is eminently capable of supporting the individual's adherence to peacemaking attitudes and activities. In this connection, the approach of Christian Science to the problem of evil has great effectiveness. In harmony with the Bible, which stresses the supremacy of the one Almighty God, the Christian Scientist doesn't accept evil as a genuine power, a stubborn reality over which man must attempt to exert some control. Rather, he sees it as a falsity, as the supposition of a power separate from God, which we need to stop believing. In fact, the strength of evil's so-called power is only in ratio to mankind's belief in and support of it. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, articulates this position in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness. Christian Science despoils the kingdom of evil, and pre-eminently promotes affection and virtue in families and therefore in the community.'' 1

Striving daily for more ``affection and virtue in families'' is a universally available starting point in the individual's work for peace. Few of us are able to speak directly with world leaders or the commanders of armies. But our family, church, and local community environments provide the opportunity to deal with challenges that are faced universally. Working within the framework of our individual lives to prove that man is truly God's beloved child and is therefore free from evil desires and drives has a definite impact on the climate of world thought.

Surely we can all think of ways right within our family circle where we can be better peacemakers. We can firmly resist the temptation to be critical, impatient, deceptive in our daily encounters. For example, we can broaden our sense of God's commandment ``Thou shalt not kill'' 2 and curtail thinking or actions that would ``kill'' another's joy, self-respect, reputation, or hope. Christ Jesus said that ``the peacemakers'' are ``the children of God.'' 3 Jealousy, short temper, rudeness, and greed are just not characteristics of the children of God. The common view is that we have little or no control over these traits. And yet through prayer, in which we affirm the true selfhood of man as God's offspring, change does come about. Efforts to eliminate these traits, through the understanding of man's essential innocence as the outcome of God, are rewarded with true reformation.

Disidentifying with evil and then proving our real nature through love toward others help to lighten the world's burden of fear and false beliefs. Each time we do so we discredit the conviction that evil is immovable and that man is powerless to resist it. Our efforts promote a mental influence that is felt by those who have the more public task of effecting world peace.

We can confidently expect that the peacemaking efforts made in our individual lives powerfully encourage more patience, openness to new ideas, willingness to cooperate, and greater self-control at the global level.

We don't have to wait until we, or those sympathetic to our views, get elected to public office. We don't have to wait until someone else comes up with a great plan we can subscribe to. Right now is a perfectly feasible time to be working actively and effectively for peace.

We can start by loving our true selves as pure and perfect expressions of an all-good God. Then we can widen this love until our sense of family includes not only those at home but those in church, neighborhood, community -- and the world. 1 Science and Health, pp. 102-103. 2 Exodus 20:13. 3 Matthew 5:9.

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