My heart goes out to the people of Egypt. On a trip there earlier this year, I gained new insight into the complexity of their situation. Although there are many reasons to be hopeful, there are also numerous aspects of life there that are understandably very frustrating. If I were an Egyptian citizen, I too would probably be out demonstrating my support for the causes important to my family and me.
Recent events have left the country with more questions than answers. Many are concerned the situation will lead to increased violence and instability before things turn for the better.
Most nations at one point or another grapple with questions of national identity. Egyptian citizens are smack in the middle of that, tackling some of the hardest ones, including what role religion should play in politics, how to stabilize a troubled economy (i.e., provide for its citizens) in the midst of political turmoil, whether it’s possible to have a government that represents all of its people – or even whether that’s an appropriate approach for Egypt.
Big questions such as these can leave some feeling fearful of the outcome, which can lead to destructive behavior. However, destructive elements need not be inevitable. In thinking about how best to support the honest efforts taking place there, I turn to the highest form of support I know: prayer.
Why would someone commit a violent act? There are many reasons, but all of them may be traced back to fear.
Jesus’ teachings provide some guidance for how it’s possible for change to take place peacefully with love as the starting point, in a way that keeps fear in check. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, he said: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.... For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?... Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43, 44, 46, 48).
The Bible says “God is love,” and “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:8, 18). If God is a loving God who governs all, there must be a way for Egypt to move forward with finding answers to these questions from a standpoint of love, which could bring the country into a period of stability without further harm to its citizens.
The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings, also described God as Love. What might the events in Egypt be like if they were viewed as happening inside a Love-governed universe – an atmosphere of divine Love? From this perspective, any changes that needed to take place would be free to happen in a way that was loving and inclusive of everyone – in a way that everyone could feel the deep peace of divine Love and thereby express love toward one another and not find themselves fighting among themselves. Such an approach could move the whole country forward together – above the hard lines of differing political perspectives, gender, religion, or nationality.
In Mrs. Eddy’s spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer, she interprets the line “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” as “And Love is reflected in love;” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 17).
In the same book she also wrote, “Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action” (p. 454). A motive such as love lifts thought above human fears and opens it to new options that might previously have been overlooked.
Today we can wrap the nation of Egypt in a loving embrace and know that the love in the heart of each Egyptian man and woman can serve to unite them in a spirit of “peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).