THE founder of this paper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrestled with the issues of war and peace during the early years of this century. In 1908 she wrote, ``For many years I have prayed daily that there be no more war, no more barbarous slaughtering of our fellow-beings; prayed that all the peoples on earth and the islands of the sea have one God, one Mind; love God supremely, and love their neighbor as themselves. ``National disagreements can be, and should be, arbitrated wisely, fairly; and fully settled.''
We stand committed to this ideal and are convinced that the pursuit of this goal requires daily prayer, willingness to seek divine guidance, and confidence in divine Providence. The liberating power of mankind's prayer and spiritual commitment has been amply attested to in the past and recently in Eastern Europe. In this light, it can be seen that arbitration requires firm resolve accompanied by fear-destroying patience. If arbitration is to be effective, vengeance, hatred, and willfulness need to be countered and dissolved by love, reason, and compassion.
It is hard to forget the sight of East Germans placing flowers in the barrels of soldiers' guns. Such love is more than the ``flower power'' of the '60s; it's an abiding recognition of the power and presence of divine Love to govern the actions of men.
In that part of the world, opportunity for the resolution of national disagreements remains in the Soviet Union, and we pray earnestly that every effort be made in this direction. Brute force is no solution. And while it is hard after more than 40 years to urge patience, patience is required if the situation is to be ``arbitrated wisely, fairly; and fully settled.''
While some skeptics may doubt the role of spirituality in world affairs, one cannot ignore the resurgence of spiritual fervor at this time in the Soviet Union. Spiritual values and vision bring the very elements needed to achieve effective reform.
The Persian Gulf presents a different picture. Arbitration should not be confused with appeasement. While we might have wished that sanctions and other peaceful means were pursued at greater length, one cannot ignore the government of Iraq's persistent strengthening of its forces and fortifications, threatening other neighbors while continuing to abuse the people of Kuwait.
War is unquestionably evil. Regrettably it is sometimes the lesser of two evils. Individuals who trust in God fully engage in spiritual warfare - efforts to destroy the elements of thought and character that generate violence. Their weapons are spiritual, not carnal. The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that Jesus Christ ``loved righteousness and hated iniquity.'' Thus the prayerful person recognizes that the destruction of evil is essential to the establishment of peace.
The world community has determined it will not tolerate aggression or terrorism. Mrs. Eddy wrote, ``War will end when nations are ripe for progress.''
The future requires a full commitment to defuse the passions in the Middle East and to resolve fairly and justly its long-standing conflicts. The world community needs to be equally united and strong in its determination to construct a new order that will restore human rights and unsnarl political disputes.
The role of spiritual action becomes particularly clear in this context. Public-policy discussions often ignore the common religious heritage shared by Jew, Muslim, and Christian. One of the great early peacemakers in the Scriptures was Abraham, a patriarch greatly honored by all three religions. All three revere one God. While important religious distinctions will remain, the Holy Scriptures and Koran provide a basis for mutual respect and understanding.
The Bible instructs, ``I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty'' (I Tim. 2:1,2).
We join with all in such prayer, and in the conviction that spiritual activism can help bring the current conflict to a just resolution. Our prayers are especially with the young men and women engaged in battle. We pray that the world's commitment to justice and peace remain unabated. And we acknowledge that through God's grace such an end is possible.