Toward peace in the Middle East

A Christian Science perspective.

Earlier this month, a flotilla from Turkey set sail with humanitarian supplies for Palestinians, challenging the blockade of Gaza by the Israeli government. What might have been a routine stoppage, however, went out of control as Israeli commandos stormed one of the ships. By the time the struggle ended, nine people were dead and at least a couple of dozen were injured.

Many of those on board (and in the rest of the flotilla) were from Turkey, which has actively tried to forward peace between Israel and its neighbors. The attack has affected the formerly amicable relationship between the two countries, and other nations have also been critical of Israel’s actions.

To keep from drowning in a sea of swirling reports and speculation – and also to make a contribution toward healing and restoration – I’ve found it helps to strive for a higher, more spiritual view of conditions. Jesus did this when he and his disciples were “stormed” at sea. Instead of being overwhelmed by the waves or by the potential consequences of the storm, he “rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm”
(Mark 4:39).

I see this great calm as the individual and collective state of thought that comes through a deeper understanding of our unity under God’s loving care. Embracing it will help our world move toward permanent peace and stability.

One way to find and hold on to this yearned-for peace is prayer ­– prayer for peace of mind, and to understand who we truly are and who our brothers and sisters truly are. Is an armed Israeli commando our brother? Is a scarfed Turkish activist our sister?

For me, the Bible has a powerful answer: “Have we not all one father?” (Mal. 2:10). Yes, we do. God is our Father, and God is one. Recognizing the spiritual identity of everyone, and that they are brothers and sisters in God, is humanitarian aid in its highest sense. No power on earth can block anyone from giving and receiving this aid. It contributes to calming fears and to setting us in right relationship with the whole human family. It also helps open the way for reconciliation.

Some Israelis may be struggling with the predicament: How can we be humane to the people in Gaza and still defend ourselves from terrorist attacks? Activists may be in a quandary: How can we get humanitarian aid through the blockade without encountering violence? The people in Gaza may be wondering: How can our situation be resolved in a good way?

If we look closely, we can see that fear is at the root of all these ruminations – fear that defense and humanity cannot work together in harmony, that doing good to others can cause us harm, that a good motive can put us in harm’s way, that we are in a hopeless situation. Fear threatens us when we believe that evil is more powerful than good, and that there are times and situations when God is not with us. But God is good, always by our side, and “he rules forever by his power”
(Ps. 66:7, New International Version).

Understanding more of God’s love and goodness begins to wipe out fear, because love and fear cannot exist together. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor more than 100 years ago, had a lot to say about divine Love in her major work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She understood Love to be a synonym for God and, therefore, to have all the power of God behind it. 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).

We can pray that the motives of the leaders of every Middle East country, of every country on earth – and their citizens – are inspired by Love, illumined by Love, designated by Love, and led by Love. Such loving motives on our part will bring a deeper calm to individual thought, and lead toward peace on earth and freedom for all humanity.

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