The sun was just rising when I looked out our hotel window to see dozens of people walking with a spring in their step despite large bundles balanced on their heads.
These were Zimbabweans, who, a short time earlier, had gained their freedom from imperialistic control. Many times during our visit in Africa in the early 1980s we encountered this jubilant celebration of liberty.
What a contrast to the mood in Zimbabwe today! A dictator rules, and opposition activists are beaten as they seek to improve the government.
More than 25 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed, inflation is rampant, and extreme shortages of basic commodities leave most citizens hungry. A country that had been one of the most productive agriculturally in Africa now does not have enough food to feed its own people.
Last year the Movement for Democratic Change broke up into two factions. They are patching up their differences now but find it hard going against the entrenched government.
Zimbabwe has certainly become an object lesson that freedom must be sustained by something more than a changed political system. There has to be, and I believe there are, spiritual answers to humanity's cry for enduring freedom from all oppression.
The Bible states, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Once someone pointed out that the statement did not say "set you free" but "make you free." This got me thinking about how man's natural, God-given spiritual condition is freedom from domination of any kind. The truth is, we have been created free.
Recognizing this fact for oneself and for others is an important step in finding freedom from oppression. Accounts of prisoners of war, concentration camp survivors, and hostages who have found mental freedom while still being held captive indicate how this inner freedom is possible even while under severe oppression. I believe that what makes this possible is that freedom is indeed our natural state.
Knowing of this possibility stirs me, especially in light of a New York Times editorial that told of the horrible conditions in this African nation and posed the poignant question, "Will no one rescue Zimbabwe?"
The editorial went on to comment that Europe and the US had limited influence in the area and concluded that South Africa, Zimbabwe's longtime trading partner, was in the best position to help.
I didn't disagree with that conclusion, but the question the article posed haunted me. I recalled something that the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, had written about the US. "The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking. A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been potent to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping-post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon's mouth. Love is the liberator" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 225).
While it often seems that political freedom is gained through warfare, this does not mean that bloodshed has to be Zimbabwe's source of freedom. Prayer brings the right thinking that allows Love to be the liberator.
My prayers affirm that God, Truth, does make all true individuality free – free from political domination, from oppressive economic conditions, from hunger and inadequate education. Devout, earnest prayer made by those who care will rescue Zimbabwe.
Surely he shall deliver thee
from the snare of the fowler...