Although a cease-fire was declared, the conflict between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia goes on. Will the ethnic hatreds that are part of the conflict continue to simmer? What is the long-range future for these provinces? How can the conflict be brought to a peaceful end?
None of these are easy questions to answer, and the complex relationships between nations and ethnic groups within these areas seem to make the situation even more difficult to resolve. But the book of Isaiah – much of which recounts various wars and God's protection and love for His people – offers this thought: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him" (Isa. 59:19).
A standard is often a flag that is a symbol or rallying point. It follows then, from a spiritual standpoint, that the standard that the Lord lifts up is one of unity and peace, not of fear and hatred. No matter what ethnic or political group people have identified with, God loves each of His children.
So prayer for peace between Russia and Georgia can begin with a conviction that God's universal love includes all parties. God sees each individual as His idea. From this come certain specific conclusions. First, that as the child of God, each one is able to hear God's voice, leading to peace and away from conflict. Second, that because all are God's offspring, they can love one another enough to overcome whatever hatreds may have been in the past or may have sprung up as a result of the current conflict.
Some have said, according to news reports, that these two factions could never be friends again, but this isn't actually true. Divine Love dissolves hatred. It unites all in universal harmony.
Another aspect of divine Love is its nature as infinite Mind, the source of all intelligence. In Mind, mistakes are impossible and only good can come. It's when we give in to the carnal, or mortal, mind – which always opposes God's goodness – that we may be led into dangerous acts that often seem, after the fact, to be irreversible.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy held out hope even for those times. She wrote, "The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind – called devil or evil – is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality" (p. 469).
This knowledge of the one Mind exterminates the results of mistakes, no matter which side has committed them. It does this by helping us realize that there is no actual source for error. Since each of us is the child of an all-intelligent Mind, each of us is created intelligent and good.
If, in our prayers, we recognize that all sides to this or any other conflict are children of this one Mind, then it follows that impulsive, manipulative, or even evil influences cannot have the final word. With all under the control of the one Mind, intelligent behavior is a natural outcome. And intelligent behavior leads, perhaps gradually but still inevitably, to peace and to mutual respect for one another.
How this will come about in the present situation is impossible to outline. But we can do our part by praying for evidence of divine Love's presence for those on the ground – examples of mercy, safety, spiritual intuition obeyed and lives saved, and brotherhood even in the midst of trouble. Any spark of good is a sign of divine Love's presence.
Our prayers can also include the recognition that divine Mind exterminates error, not people. Mistaken motives and acts will be removed, and so will their effects. As this spiritual cleansing takes place, the desire for violence and separation will fade. Willingness to accept divine Love's guidance and care will become more possible. And the standard of Love will fly overhead as a sign of peace.