Too many times I've wakened to headlines of terrorist bombings and other activities in the world. One time in the Middle East, another time somewhere else. Just as sorrowful as the private tragedies terrorism produces is the attempted assassination of peace-sometimes just when it seems to have a chance.
It is tempting to make at such times a deadly assumption: that evil is more powerful than good, and that there isn't enough good to go around. As a Christian Scientist, however, I am compelled to refute this. I have gained spiritual understanding from studying the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. At the core of this understanding is the truth that God is the only reality, and that God is good. Because He is present everywhere, there is no place for evil. Therefore there can be no power in evil, while goodness is something we all have a right to experience.
Under many human circumstances, asserting this may seem downright audacious. But it is not predicated on blind faith, and I have seen it bring healing over and over again. I have seen long-standing animosities healed. I have seen anger and cruelty melt before love and kindness, when the truths of God just stated have been honored and accepted.
The history of animosity among people-in which the seeds of terrorism are sown-goes back a long way. For example, the book of Genesis in the Bible contains the story of Isaac and Ishmael, two sons of Abraham. He had Ishmael by a servant, Hagar. This son was conceived when Abraham's wife Sarah was thought to be barren. But then in her old age Sarah bore Abraham a son named Isaac.
Not satisfied with this great blessing, Sarah nourished a resentment toward Hagar and Ishmael. This was then inflamed by Ishmael's mocking behavior at a special ceremony for Isaac. And Abraham-against his will-cast both Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness to face almost certain death. But there is a wonderful lesson in this story: God, having room for all His children, heard Hagar's cry. He saved her. And He saved Ishmael, who became the father of the Arab people. It had only been Sarah's misperception that said there wasn't enough good for both sons-that one was a threat to the other.
I had a small experience of my own recently that reminded me of this Bible story. My son had taken important college entrance examinations and done quite well. In fact, I was very proud of what he had achieved. Very proud that is, until I learned that the son of a friend of mine had done even better. Suddenly, a black cloud covered my joy. I had been accepting that my son had to be the best of all-the only "heir," so to speak. I'd been convinced that there was not enough good to go around.
Through consideration of some of the ideas discussed here, concerning God and His great love for each of us, I was able to see my foolishness in thinking jealously, and to regain my joy. The tenth commandment of the Mosaic Law includes this: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, . . . nor any thing that is thy neighbour's" (Exodus 20:17). This is not just an add-on commandment. It really matters. All envy, all covetousness, is predicated on the belief that good is scarce, and that God gives good to some but not to others.
There is a statement in Science and Health that I love very much. It speaks, I believe, both to that situation and to the various tragedies in different parts of the world: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils 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" (p. 340).
So many people, all over the world, care about ending conflict. They long to see justice and freedom for all peoples. The place to begin is to understand in our hearts that God's love is sufficient for each man, woman, and child on the face of the earth.