The struggle for freedom in Syria

A Christian Science perspective.

Even as the battle for freedom goes on in Syria’s cities, the struggle for international unity on how to respond continues. Growing violence led the United States to close its embassy in Syria yesterday, and the United Kingdom to bring its ambassador to London for consultations. Finding a solution isn’t proving easy. As a recent Monitor editorial brought out, one country’s view of the rebels as fighters for national freedom is offset by another country’s view of the situation as a civil war in which the established government must be supported.

At first, this might seem like a purely intellectual debate on the nature of government. But thousands of people – men, women, and children – have been killed in this struggle, and their lives call upon our compassion and our prayers to lift government to a higher level. Instead of thinking of government as the tool of individuals and personalities, thus subject to lawlessness and chance, there is an opportunity for something better.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, provided the basis for this “something better” in her article “How Strife may be Stilled.” She wrote, “The Principle of all power is God, and God is Love” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 278). Thinking of government from this standpoint helps erase the cloud of complexities that makes understanding the situation in Syria seem so difficult.

Instead of being drawn into the political and religious complexities, my prayer has turned to the one God, who unites all of us in goodness and peace, no matter what our denomination or nation. God is Love, and His love for humanity was shown fully in the ministry of Christ Jesus. God’s loving power is still present today, and it is on the field in Syria, guiding and strengthening all who are committed to good, just as it is with the international leaders pondering their next steps.

The Bible states, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). This tells us that prayer is not in vain. Nor is it theoretical or too far away from the scene to make a difference.

In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy wrote: “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’... Then is the power of Truth demonstrated, – made manifest in the destruction of error” (p. 559).

Whenever I’ve faced complex situations with what seem like competing demands, I’ve turned to God, the one divine Mind, to resolve them. In a number of instances where resolution seemed impossible, unexpected and unanticipated changes took place that cleared the way for peace and harmony.

Even though the situation with Syria may seem much bigger than one person’s needs, the same divine law is fully able to bring healing. It is always in operation, and it is effectual because it is sourced in divine Principle, Love. Principle supports lawfulness, and this law rests on divine Love, not on human will or power. Thus, Principle’s rule is orderly but not repressive, structured but not confining, balanced but not rigid. It includes freedom, peace, and safety for all.

Prayer from the standpoint of divine Principle’s government of the situation doesn’t need to outline outcomes. Divine Love’s protecting power will support and strengthen all who are working on behalf of good, of unity, of freedom. Principle can, and will, guide each right-thinking individual to steps that will move the situation in a more balanced and lawful direction.

I’ve also felt moved to embrace the international community and its struggle with how to proceed. The love of God and the strength of divine Principle are present for each one striving to address this issue. Leaders can respond to the divine impetus and also gain insights into how to respond intelligently to those in need of help. Wisdom can prevail.

As people pray in the best way they know how, this voice of Truth will be heard in the hearts of the Syrian people and their leaders. It will guide the international community in its own responses, and we’ll see the power of Love bring healing and peace.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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