Tomorrow (Thursday) presidential elections will be held in Afghanistan, and citizens who are willing to defy Taliban threats will be attempting to vote. That these threats are not just theoretical is indicated by the episodes of violence that have taken at least 10 lives as of this writing. In southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban are most entrenched, some areas have no polling stations, and even in places that do, many people haven't been able to register to vote. Taliban elements are also making more personal threats to injure voters.
The Afghan government has been making efforts to protect citizens who want to vote, and police and military activity on Thursday is expected to exclusively involve such assignments. For those who want to support this legal process, it seems right to challenge in prayer the concern that fear can halt the progress of a nation. Those purveying fear cannot be representing the true sense of God, especially the sense of the Creator as all-merciful and good.
One of the most beautiful descriptions of God's loving care was given by Moses toward the end of his life. Encouraging the children of Israel to go on without him, even though they would be facing powerful enemies, he told them, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Deut. 31:6).
While each individual will have to make his or her own decision about voting, our prayers can support that promise of God's care by recognizing that divine Love is ever present and is a sure protector. This love of God isn't changeable, nor does it play favorites. The nature of Love is to rest in divine law, which transcends hatred, selfishness, greed, ambition – whatever forces that use fear as a weapon against innocent people. Since fear is no part of God, Love, there is no reason to honor its claim to power.
No one deserves to be held captive by such thought processes, even if they are cloaked in the guise of religion. In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote: "The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love" (p. 224). A careful reading of the Old Testament shows that God's purpose is not to enslave His people but to free them to a higher understanding of His love for them and of their continuing growth in spirituality and goodness. This is true for each individual today as well as in those earlier times.
Science and Health says this of those who would hold back this growth in the freedom God is providing for each of us: "The despotic tendencies, inherent in mortal mind and always germinating in new forms of tyranny, must be rooted out through the action of the divine Mind" (p. 225). These tendencies are not part of anyone's true nature, which is spiritual and good. Nor do they come as inspirations from the divine Mind, whose name is also Love. Rather, they are the influence of carnal thinking, which would reduce life to a purely material existence and would also reduce God to nothing more than a being who loves and hates.
Those who think of God in material terms can come to a higher understanding of life and experience. They can learn to know God as all-loving and eternal, as infinitely wise Spirit rather than a God who would motivate His followers to disrupt and destroy a people.
Love for God and man can prevail in Afghanistan instead of the forces of fear and its mental tyranny. Individuals of courage and strength can stand up for what is real and good in themselves and in their country. Our prayer-based conviction that no power – no tyranny, despotism, or fear – can withstand divine Love's purpose for its people will help support that effort. God is present to protect and save, and prayer can claim this presence for each individual, no matter how remote the location or difficult the circumstances.
Even if the progress toward freedom takes some time and isn't easy, every time people are able to prove that they will not give in to fear and intimidation, the light of liberty will grow stronger and stronger – until there is only light and no darkness at all.