REMARKABLE progress has been made in bringing people's and nations' differences to the conference table instead of the battlefield. But is there a sure way to defend the rights of humanity and freedom that does not involve warfare? Christ Jesus showed there is. The peacemaking he taught and illustrated included prayer and wisdom, and its results were peace and healing, not destruction. If we are endeavoring to follow Jesus' example, we cannot help yearning to uproot the causes of war and eliminate its tragic waste by practicing what we understand of the spiritual peacemaking he taught.
I found this spiritual way to conquer war remarkably effective when conflict broke out in my marriage. While I'm not suggesting that a troubled relationship can be equated with international strife in which thousands may suffer, as I struggled with my own situation I did find something of the underlying, powerful truth that conquers discord, on whatever scale it may be found.
From the start, no one had given our marriage much hope for survival. One night during the first year of our marriage, it looked as though predictions of a short relationship were correct, for I was ready to leave and not return. Suddenly I heard my husband, who had also been very angry, suggest in tones so gentle and loving that I was astonished, that we ``come to the conference table.'' We talked it through one more time and were able to win that particular battle. But there was more to be done to win the war!
My husband, a lifelong Christian Scientist, had so startled me with his quick change of attitude that I was encouraged to try harder to understand his religion, which I felt had been responsible for the sudden cessation of hostility. As I read Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, I found a passage that seemed to me like an oasis of hope in a desert of discord and despair. Referring to the First Commandment, found in Exodus, ``Thou shalt have no other gods before me,'' Mrs. Eddy speaks of the blessings that result from obedience to this healing law. ``One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, `Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, -- whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.''
The First Commandment was something I could actually put into practice every day. And I began to see that if our marriage was to survive, it would not be because of any self-willed determination to ``make it work'' but because we would make God, divine Love, first and most important in our lives. Nearly thirty years of happy companionship have proved to me the value of applying the powerful healing law of the First Commandment.
Warfare can be conquered, and we start with our own individual efforts. Genuine, permanent peace begins with each of us. In proportion to our willingness to put God first in our hearts and live in accordance with His powerful law of love, we are responding to the world's great need for peacemakers. Even when war breaks out in parts of the world that seem remote, God's government of harmony and brotherhood is right at hand. It is this spiritual power and peace, beginning in each heart, that can escalate until war is seen to be an imposition, not a necessity. God's government is one that hatred, tyranny, and fear can never overthrow. It is our right to begin to see its effects in our thoughts and actions today, and thus have our part in ending wars and establishing the brotherhood of man.