A soldier's deadly deed in Afghanistan, and a way to find peace

A Christian Science perspective.

We don’t know what horrific motive or wrong thinking drove a US soldier to go house to house, killing 16 innocent Afghans including women and children on Sunday. But we’ve seen how the stresses of war can erupt in such instances of blind hate.

To the degree that any of us hates our neighbor, we have a responsibility to wipe out that hate so as not to contribute to this type of human misery, but instead to “hold crime in check” by living our lives in the way Jesus taught (Mary Baker Eddy, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 96-97). I believe that Jesus understood clearly the source of life to be God, divine Love, and through this understanding he changed the world. Love overcame the most horrific hate, grace softened seared human hearts. It took courage then to stand for the power of this divine Love, and it takes courage now. But as God’s witnesses, we are uniquely fitted to do it.

In my work for The Christian Science Monitor, I reported from Afghanistan and the Pentagon. Let me offer this witness.

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Sitting at tea with tribal elders or talking with the residents of Kandahar, I was left in no doubt that God loves these people dearly. Never have I been treated with such respect and dignity. The Afghans that I met are a deep and soulful people, and God sees that – sees only that – and is caring for them so tenderly.

Meeting with Marine units returned from Iraq, I saw a selfless commitment, a genuine and beautiful brotherly love that touched the heart. In their true spiritual being, each one of those men is God’s beloved son, just as each Afghan is.

Accepting this love of God for each of us, including those who were so unmercifully killed, their families, and members of their community, can help begin to dissolve the hate that motivated and surrounds this event. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote: “No power can withstand divine Love. What is this supposed power, which opposes itself to God? Whence cometh it? What is it that binds man with iron shackles to sin, sickness, and death? Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government. Truth makes man free” (Science and Health, pp. 224-225).

The conviction that the scenes from Afghanistan are not an accurate depiction of the nature of God, the one Spirit, and that Spirit is greater than all else, is true rebellion. It is a righteous war against the tyranny of hate, which would make us all slaves to gods of fear, wrath, and chance. It is this spiritual warfare that overcomes the world and all evil and reveals creation as God sees it, entirely good, without the slightest element of hatred, anger, or death. It is God’s love and His guiding hand that can overturn whatever horror led to this massacre and the bewilderment, grief, and terror that have followed in its wake.

Ultimately, the Revelator promises us, we’ll all so understand the reality of God’s wholly good creation and the true brotherhood of man that “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

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