Healing the nations: work for each of us

There was a period in my life when I daily crossed a bridge between Boston and Cambridge. I would be on foot and almost always look up and notice the words from Revelation inscribed on one of the approaches to the bridge: "On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Rev. 22:2; While the inscription may have been chosen simply for its symbolism (this bridge links two parts of a great university), it may also have served over the years to evoke in many a student the thought that not only one's formal learning and subsequent vocation but the entire thrust of his life can reach its highest meaning only when its motivation is to bless others.

Today there is an immediate need for "the healing of the nations." Rivalries for political and economic power that have existed for centuries have been joined by new technologies having the capacity for mass destruction. Changing power structures among the major industrial nations, combined with instabilities among the scores of newly independent nations, add up to a situation difficult for the most intelligent layman to follow, let alone offer constructive comment on. Yet our common fate appears to hang on the decisions being reached by the leaders of nations or by economic units that are not even known to us individually. How, then, can we help in this selfless work of healing the nations?

First, we need to ask ourselves if we actually want to help heal the nations. In the back of most people's thought lies the idea that it is good to be unselfish. But in the midst of day-to-day concerns that concept too often remains right there—at the back of thought! However, the nature of the good we would like for ourselves is no different from what we would like to see demonstrated for all mankind. What we claim for ourselves—health, satisfying activity, good companionship—we need to claim for all. What we can rightfully claim for our nation we must likewise want to see manifest for all nations.

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Spiritual unity: a prophet's vision
December 25, 1978

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