Human Rights and Peace
IN Freeport, Maine, not too long ago, pieces of the Berlin Wall were displayed. One inscription on these pieces said, ``Forget not the tyranny of this wall--horrid place. Nor the love of freedom that made it fall--laid waste!
Much has happened since that hopeful, heady time. The message of freedom's power still rings through history and through our lives. Despite this progress, however, situations in a variety of other countries show that basic freedoms cannot be taken for granted.
Such challenges to human rights are not new. Paul, one of Christ Jesus' followers, and other Christians were regularly imprisoned by those who did not understand their teachings and their purpose. Prophets such as Elijah and Jeremiah were threatened with death or imprisoned. Martin Luther faced death in connection with his efforts to reform the Christian Church during his day. And in modern times civil-rights workers --and those brave people who brought down the Berlin Wall-- faced down danger and death.
One common thread that runs through commentary by people engaged
in this struggle for freedom is the power of prayer to change the course of events. And prayer can be our way to join the continuing work for peace and human rights.
Paul's writings in the Bible offer much food for thought in connection with liberty. One statement in his second letter to the Corinthians says something significant about the atmosphere of freedom. He tells the Corinthians: ``Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
The liberty of which Paul is speaking isn't political freedom, per se. It is, rather, an understanding that each of us is actually a spiritual idea of God and can never be cut off from His presence. No prison, no war zone, no lonely night, is beyond the reach of divine Love. Christ Jesus proved this even in the tomb. Our prayers can affirm this for ourselves, for our friends, and for our neighbors around the world. We can listen to news reports about troubled areas and specifically pray to know God's per manent love for His man.
Claiming the unbreakable unity of God and man, while not a political act, can open the way for individuals and nations to find freedom. And when we do this, we are helping the nations to progress.
Individually, we can also strive to live within the atmosphere of divine Love by treating those around us as we would want to be treated. Expressing love and respect for our fellow humans--no matter what their race, gender, national origin, or creed--affirms our willingness to live in accord with the impartial love that God gives all of His children. And loving others helps us as well. How? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, addresses this point in her book Science and Heal th with Key to the Scriptures. Speaking of the United States, she writes: ``The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking."
Such right thinking precludes any willingness to engage in discrimination, envy, injustice, or cruelty to others. It demands of each of us that we break away from such behavior and make the effort to see ourselves and others in the true, spiritual light.
In other words, instead of thinking that members of a particular race or religion need to be exterminated or should be forced to leave our local areas, we can extend to them the same impartial love that Christ Jesus expressed so well.
Is this easy? Not always. Cultural conflicts do need to be overcome. And giving up the habit of mentally--or otherwise--denigrating people can be pretty challenging. On the page in Science and Health referred to earlier, Mrs. Eddy speaks of this challenge, saying, ``Legally to abolish unpaid servitude in the United States was hard; but the abolition of mental slavery is a more difficult task."
Each of us has a part to play in the struggle for full human rights. Even when the battle is fierce and progress seems slow or nonexistent, we can persevere--if for no other reason than to acknowledge the evidences of freedom already proved in our world. As another sign in the Freeport, Maine, display stated: ``In the evening hours of November 9, 1989 the impossible happened, the monolithic symbol of Communism, the Berlin Wall, fell!
``In the words of Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt, Director, Check Point Charlie Museum, Berlin, `This brings hope to the World! If it can happen in Berlin. It can happen anywhere!'"
Through our steady and unshakable prayers, it will happen everywhere!
The spirit of the Lord God
is upon me;
because the Lord
hath anointed me
to preach good tidings
unto the meek;
he hath sent me
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty
to the captives,
and the opening of the prison
to them that are bound.