What if peace had come to the world and nobody had noticed?
That was what came to mind while reading a recent article in this newspaper pointing out that it has been almost three years since any two nation-states have been engaged in war with each other ("Welcome to world peace," Aug. 30).
That's the first time this has happened in over 50 years. There has been plenty of conflict – such as the current strife between Sri Lanka's government and the Tamil Tigers – but no wars between states. And despite high-profile intranational conflicts, such as the Iraqi insurgency, even civil conflicts are apparently on the decrease.
OK, that's not exactly the peace most of us have hoped would sweep the planet.
But suppose it could be sustained? Suppose there was never another war between nations? Wouldn't that constitute peace at one level? Wouldn't it represent a precious step along the way to global peace? And if so, wouldn't gratitude for this state of affairs be appropriate, even powerful?
I think it would be both. I think of gratitude for every inkling of progress as a prayer – a stepping-stone prayer that opens our thought to promise and possibilities.
One of the possibilities that comes to mind as I pray with gratitude for a period without war between nations is that maybe this is God's work. And if it is God's work, then it can't be undone. And if it isn't ever undone, then how long will it be until the same applies to civil war, and then the so-called wars on drugs and terrorism?
These are heartening "what ifs"! But what is peace? If the world eventually gets to experience freedom from all wars, will that be total peace? No. Not until every city; every community; every household, workplace, and church no longer harbors anger or hatred. And then?
No. Not until every single human heart is fully at peace within itself. And then? Yes. The kingdom of heaven will have come on earth because human experience will fully express the reality of man (all men and women) as one harmonious family, each in and of himself/herself – and each in relation to all others – infused with harmony, health, and happiness: perfect peace.
That's how God, the Father-Mother of all, sees creation now and always – as the mutually loving children, or ideas, of one Mind, God. And that is why peace is inevitably coming, "in earth, as it is in heaven" – as the Lord's Prayer puts it – because all are being drawn inevitably by Mind into increasing conformity with itself, with Mind.
"Had all peoples one Mind, peace would reign," Mary Baker Eddy – founder of this newspaper – once wrote, at a time of war ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 279).
Progress in peacemaking is not, then, merely the result of a plea from humanity to God, that gets Him to do something He hasn't yet done. It is humanity conforming to the demand of the divine Mind to come alive to, and express, the oneness of that Mind, in which all is peace.
Picture it this way: A wind-tossed, turbulent lake eventually has to become still. But it doesn't have to become turbulent again. Humanity is being mandated by Christ (God's self-revealing power) to bring forth, and settle in, the universal calm of His allness – to awaken to a peace-filled spiritual creation that is never "wind-tossed" (never subject to the material turbulence of war and conflict). Why? Because if God is All, then there is no "wind" (no source of evil) to toss the waves.
Clearly, that much peace hasn't yet come to the world – not nearly. But a sneak preview of peace has come, and I for one hadn't even realized it. I hope and pray that it turns out to be a meaningful step along the way in humanity's inevitable journey toward finding – and proving – God's peace.