International friendship

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

To which country does the United States sell more than three times as many goods and services as to Japan? Which country has a two-way trade flow with the US greater than its trade with all 25 European Union countries combined? Did you guess Canada?

In addition to enjoying the world's most comprehensive and complex trade relationship, the two countries share the world's longest undefended border. Every day over a billion dollars in trade and more than half a million people cross that border, and that almost without incident. From defense to environmental issues to law enforcement, the two countries set a high standard for bilateral relations.

The relationship between Canada and the US is unique in many ways. With the approach of their national holidays (Canada, July 1 and the US, July 4), I find myself going beyond gratitude for this relationship to praying to see even greater unity and harmony between these close neighbors.

I first experienced how close these two countries are when, as a student, I attended the International Music Camp in northern North Dakota, just miles from the Canadian border. I came from Regina, in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, a few hundred miles away. Attending this music camp allowed me to make friends from many other countries, including from the US.

At the end of each weekly session we gave concerts with the band sitting half in Canada, half in the US, and the conductor standing with a foot in each country. These concerts took place in the International Peace Garden - a 2,339-acre botanical garden maintained by Canada and the US.

Amid the good relations, however, there are significant points of disagreement. Differing views on politics, trade, and world relations have caused both countries to lodge complaints against each other.

But I'm convinced that it's not possible to divide the deepest interests of one country from another. Countries are groups of individuals, and these individuals are actually children of God and so are at one with one another.

This fundamental oneness provides a basis for building cross-border unity and cooperation. Understanding our oneness makes us more sympathetic toward others, more flexible, more willing to go the extra mile to get along.

In the field of international trade, a country's decision to protect its domestic industry can suppress that same industry in the neighboring country. How important to see that divine Love is undergirding and embracing everyone involved.

Often what drives international relations is the notion that good is limited, so proper foreign policy requires advancing and defending one's national interest. But the God who has put us together hasn't put us at cross- purposes by creating a limited amount of good, and then on an individual or international level, setting us to fight one another for that good. In fact, the infinite good of God is ever available. Our love and concern for others opens our eyes so that we can experience that infinite good.

According to the Gospels, Christ Jesus always had his eyes open to infinite good. When a boy offered his five barley loaves and two small fishes to help feed thousands (see John 6:5-13), Jesus was seeing that abundance and provision of God were present to bless all. The result? The multiplication of the loaves and fishes, with 12 baskets of bread left over.

Mary Baker Eddy commented on this event in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes, - Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply" (page 206).

Canada and the US enjoy a unique relationship, in many ways setting an example for other countries. Through prayer and goodwill, that relationship can only improve and bless the world.

Behold, how good and
how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell together
in unity!

Psalms 133:1

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