The world would be better off without dictators. That's a statement few people in democratic societies would argue with. Many of those people sometimes contend that the death of certain dictators offers the only resolution to the problems their actions present.
But to consider death as a solution in any situation puts us on a slippery slope.
A knowledgeable proverb recorded in the Holy Bible observes, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Prov. 29:2). When we become aware of the thousands who have died, perhaps many of whom are children, because of some ruler's intransigence, we may find it is hard to include that individual in our prayers. Yet such inclusion is vitally needed.
Not long ago, I was praying about one of many crises in the world perpetuated by a dictator's actions. This biblical statement stood out to me: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12). I suddenly felt compassion for anyone who had been cast, or had cast himself, in the self-destructive role of ruler of darkness. This extended to that particular dictator, and I knew I must stop thinking of him only as a troublemaker who I wished would disappear.
About this time, that individual stepped back from a very adamant position, leaving an opening for peaceful progress. I'm not saying that my insight necessarily effected this change. Yet my glimpse into the spiritual reality of every individual, which genuine compassion had brought forth, gave a direction for my continued prayers. And I know that every inspired prayer helps.
What we really want is a turning from wickedness to righteousness - from deadly sins to life. We never need fear that this could excuse a single sin or ignore a single victim.
"To suppose that sin, lust, hatred, envy, hypocrisy, revenge, have life abiding in them, is a terrible mistake," wrote Mary Baker Eddy in her main work on Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures " (Pg. 289). As one who loved God and all His creation, Mrs. Eddy never closed her eyes to the sins of the world. A follower of the teachings of Christ Jesus, she worked and prayed that the sinner be roused to know the awfulness of his or her deed. While doing this, she never forsook her understanding of man's and woman's essential goodness as the spiritual image and likeness of God. She knew that the children of God's creating inherit the qualities of life, not of death. Many times her prayers proved that this spiritual truth has the power to restrain and correct human character.
Humanitarian sensibilities, moral courage, integrity, faith in God and in the understanding of the supremacy of good - these are the qualities that have life in them and that endure. They are inherent in the true nature of every one of us. Today, as we confront the exploits of the world's dictators, we can choose to restore them in our prayer to their God-given spiritual status. To do otherwise does nothing to counter the evil that allows weapons of mass destruction. Evil, through whatever avenue it appears, has no real place or continuance in God's government. We can decide to accept as reality life instead of death. We can recognize that righteousness is the reality that comes from God and is the true authority in every country. Through sustained prayer all oppressed people gain new, concrete reasons for rejoicing. The dark places will be lighted. Wickedness will have no place.
As you seek God's government throughout the world, and in your life, this is really choosing life! In the Old Testament the Supreme Ruler counsels: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days" (Deut. 30:19, 20). Choosing God's power to govern, instead of choosing cursing and death for a dictator, is a choice of life - for all humanity.