When the "Secure Fence Act" became law in October 2006 – instructing the Department of Homeland Security to build 700 miles of fence along the US-Mexican border and instituting other measures to slow the tide of illegal immigrants into the US – it was hailed by supporters and derided by critics.
The vehemence of the debate took many by surprise. Since the act's passage, the dust has never settled. In some ways, the controversy has grown more intense. The argument now extends beyond whether the original plan was good. Politicians now also quarrel over the ever-growing cost.
Underlying these debates are not just the obvious questions of national security, immigration, and financial oversight. Timeless questions also reside here. How do peoples in close proximity but with differing cultural values and different languages get along with each other? How do you balance competition and cooperation – especially when, financially speaking, the two sides of the border are so out of balance?
In the quest for answers, among the most valuable resources – but easiest to overlook – are those that are spiritual. Spiritual resources not only have a way of bringing calm when tempers might otherwise start to flare. They also offer unique, problem-solving perspectives, ones that hint at answers to even the toughest questions.
Consider the Bible's account of Abram (later known as Abraham) and Lot. It's a success story, one of the earliest, of conflict resolution between neighboring peoples. Abram and his brother Lot each had large flocks and herds, and a significant band of followers.
The friction between the two groups was almost inevitable. The resolution, unforeseeable. It wasn't a matter of reluctantly learning to live with risk. Nor was it a case of one side resignedly accepting a burdensome influx of too many newcomers. Something divine was at work. We can't trace Abram's growing spiritual understanding and his budding relationship with the Almighty. But it appears he had an inborn conviction that might be summed up this way: Because the Almighty is present, good solutions can't be far off.
At a key meeting, Abram said to Lot: "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren…. if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (Gen. 13:8, 9). It worked. Harmony became the norm. Everyone felt the Almighty as a "present help in trouble." Neither side came away feeling disadvantaged.
That desire for a resolution that was good for all parties was prayer in action. And prayer is a most valuable spiritual resource. True prayer is not pushing, or asking God to push, an agenda. It's letting thought fill with a recognition that God is the infinitely wise, all-knowing Mind. And the one universal and impartial Love. This God of fathomless love and intelligence smooths out troubles.
Our part? Remember that He is on the scene. Recall He cares equally for all parties. Realize He knows that to benefit one side is not to penalize another. Divine Love does not send its children off wandering through the desert to look for a solution. Love stays present. Love calls each one and provides solution-finding inspiration fresher than a mountain spring.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as 'a very present help in trouble.' Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, 'Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' " ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pp. 12-13). The inspiration that flows from divine Love, divine Mind, helps authorities – even those who know nothing of God – find the best solutions for the most troubling of challenges, including those along the border.