Nearly 50 countries – including 17 Arab nations – have gathered in Annapolis, Md., for a Middle East summit that began on Tuesday. While some commentators predict failure, the outcome isn't predetermined. Nor is the quest for peace hopeless. But much work is needed, and I'm praying for the success of the conference, because that's the only practical contribution I can make to its work.
One omission from the guest list is Hamas, the radical political party that controls Gaza. The United States and European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group because of its refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, to renounce violence, and to abide by any agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israelis.
To have lasting peace, Hamas and its followers, along with hard-liners on the other side, must agree to the peace process and give up hate-filled attitudes for a willingness to coexist, to have respect and even love for one another. This may seem impossible, but Jesus declared, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27).
My prayers are affirming that because God is the only Mind, progress is not just possible but inevitable. God loves all of His creation and offers only good to it. From the standpoint of Mind, both participants and nonparticipants are spiritual ideas, equally precious, equally deserving of peace. There are no outsiders, no haters, in God's kingdom.
Those who hate are often motivated by fear and the desire for vengeance – fear that they will lose their uniqueness, that at any moment their home may be taken away, fear that a loved one will be killed. So I am taking special care in my prayers to offer the antidote to fear and vengeance: love.
Often, people think of love as something passive that just "sits there," but since God is Love, a truly active presence, our love is active, too. Consider Jesus' ministry – the love he showed restoring people to life and health.
Just as Jesus showed the impossible to be possible, so divine Love will also open the way to greater peace in the Middle East. It does this in several ways, as outlined in Mary Baker Eddy's book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She wrote: "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action" (p. 454).
Love inspires and illumines: With so many countries gathered with the purpose of establishing a lasting peace, it's natural for our prayers to include an affirmation that their representatives deserve to be inspired. Not only that, since each of them is a spiritual idea of God, they are open to the light of truth. They are able to think a new thought about the way to peace and even to love those on the other side of their arguments.
In the light of Love, traits such as hatred, envy, selfishness, and pride are revealed as obstacles to good rather than as proofs of power. As people perceive these attitudes to be unproductive of love, it becomes easier for them to change their behavior.
Love designates: Through divine Love's guidance, individuals can be led to decisions that will benefit humanity while also ensuring that those who would break the law or engage in terrorist acts are kept under control.
Love leads the way: Here is where our prayers can be quite effective in finding ways to bring Hamas on board with the overall plan. Ensuring that Syria and Iran remain in the discussions is also vital. Love never isolates its ideas from each other; Love never separates or allows legitimate concerns to be ignored, either. Love includes justice, but it also reveals flexibility and peace.
Will the conference be successful? There will be many opinions about that as it goes on and after it's over. But if Love is evident, even just in small ways, our prayers and the participants' willingness to work together will have accomplished much.