Dealing With Enemies

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

IN thinking about acts of terrorism, I wanted to pray for the world. But for a while I didn't know how. The sheer monstrosity of one huge bombing in particular overwhelmed me. One day as I prayed, it became particularly clear to me that the impulse to kill is a misguided conviction that enemies can be eliminated through violence, either in a sudden fit of temper or through a deliberate plan.

The belief that we can destroy enemies through killing is as old as humanity. Weapons for accomplishing murderous acts have taken on new forms-chemically based explosives, automatically repeating guns, or poisonous gases. People believe the enemy is a person or a group of people. They do not realize they are really dealing with thoughts and attitudes, which cannot be eradicated by getting rid of people. Evil cannot be scrubbed out by killing humans. A bad cause will continue to reappear until humanity learns to negotiate and to compromise, through love of God and His creation.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of this newspaper, wrote an article in Miscellaneous Writings entitled "Love Your Enemies." It starts out with two very interesting questions: "Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation?" (p. 8). Truly, an enemy is a concoction of one's own mentality. Therefore it is in our thought that the concept of "enemy" must be destroyed. True, most people do not go out and physically kill. But what about the way people sometimes play out scenes of confrontation, violence, or even murder in their thinking?

One of the first things to realize in prayer is that God is entirely good, and incapable of creating evil or an evil mind. He has made man as His own image. He has made us all good. The first chapter of Genesis declares this. On the basis of these facts, enemies do not exist in God's consciousness. God doesn't know evil.

Christian Science calls the false consciousness that perceives discord "mortal mind." In the Bible, Paul refers to this same false consciousness as "the carnal mind" (Rom. 8:7). Christian Science also reveals God to be Mind, and because there is only one God there can be only one Mind. This includes no hateful mentality. And that's the basic truth that begins to heal the world of strife and war.

How does prayer help heal the world? First, it helps by healing the one who prays. What if each one of us prayed as Christ Jesus taught, "for them which despitefully use you"? (Luke 6:28) Suppose we did pray for our enemies, and tried to find ways to bless them? Wouldn't that go a long way toward lessening hatred in the world?

Perhaps we need to become aware of political and social groups that have hate of something or someone as the basis of their credos. It is important to be aware of such trends and to pray about them. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught his followers to pray not to be tempted by evil, but to be delivered from it. We can pray, "God, lead us away from hate and from hateful actions."

When I was on the board of a local committee, I once had to conduct a meeting that was predicted to be volatile and nasty. Feelings were intense about the issue to be discussed. I'd been warned that those opposed to an action my board was planning would do all they could to disrupt the meeting.

As the meeting began, very hateful statements were made. I had really prayed about this meeting. I was certain that harmony was a spiritual fact, and that each one at this meeting really desired a sensible outcome and not a fight. I rose, called the room to silence, and calmly said I'd adjourn the meeting if everyone did not act responsibly and considerately. From then on everything began to be congenial. The issue lost all its volatility in the town, and was soon resolved without any more hostility.

Each one of us can have a part in quelling hatred. This is done in praying to forgive, to love, and to eradicate animosity from one's own thinking. This brings opposing sides together, ends conflict, and promotes peace.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.

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