As the war in Iraq continues, it's sometimes easy to forget that it involves real people trying to survive in a war zone. Events in the Shiite holy city of Karbala this week – in which over a million pilgrims were asked to leave as a result of violent attacks during a religious festival – are just one example of how the war is affecting people "on the ground." Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and soldiers (Americans, Iraqis, and others) have lost their lives.
In terms of personal contact or comforting, most of us can't help directly, but spiritually scientific prayer is a practical and specific way to contribute. Prayer for the safety of all people, civilian and military, for inspired ideas that will help leaders work together and transcend personal agendas.
For me, the first step in such prayer is to see the situation from a spiritual standpoint, to affirm that divine Love is right there, supporting and guiding all who are "on the ground" or flying in the air for a good purpose. We can pray to know not just that divine Love protects each one, providing guidance to them for their good. Our prayers can also include the conviction that people are willing to listen to the intuitions they receive from Love and to obey, for their safety.
These intuitions may guide one to step outside a building that has been booby-trapped before a bomb goes off (or not to go into it at all). As Psalm 91 puts it, "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." That "stone" could be a bomb from which someone can be saved by obeying an angel's message.
These spiritual intuitions aren't limited to literal protection. Divine Love's unifying presence can also touch thought within the government, leading to more flexibility and openness to others. Divine Love doesn't actually see anyone or anything as a material entity – a sect, clan, or ethnic group. Love sees each of us as its spiritual ideas, including the unique purpose Love has given us. This is true for the people of Iraq and all other people.
There is no fragmentation in Love because Love pours out its healing balm, like a great river. It doesn't dole out cupfuls to this sect or that one, or turn away another because its supply is running low. The nature of Love is to love and to include all within its goodness.
In Love's presence, hatred, jealousy, and antagonism must disappear, neutralized and washed away through its healing power. Divine Love is also inescapable because it is infinite – and as present in Iraq and Iran as it is in the United Kingdom and the United States. And everywhere it is a constant guide, leading us toward peace individually and collectively.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote several articles on war and peace. In one she wrote, "The Principle of all power is God, and God is Love. Whatever brings into human thought or action an element opposed to Love, is never requisite, never a necessity, and is not sanctioned by the law of God, the law of Love. The Founder of Christianity said: My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you' " ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pp. 278-279).
This peace that Jesus promised is something anyone can experience, no matter what his or her faith may be. Because there really is only one God, who is above all sectarian divisions, His healing love is available to all without measure. When we embrace the people of Iraq in our love, we're expressing a willingness to see them in spiritual terms, to give up stereotypes and hopelessness for healing.
For those who are on the front lines – civilian and military – we can offer prayer that affirms their continued protection from the evils of war, and demand spiritually the tide keep turning toward peace and stability. And there is no better "tide turner" than the presence of Love.