Forgiveness and peacebuilding call for inspired practice at every level, on every project.

It can be tempting to feel that the mere existence of a conflict, in and of itself, signifies a failure. Even though my work in peacebuilding has caused me to witness countless examples of powerful progress resulting from constructively moving through conflict, I still find that facing a conflict that directly involves me can be hard. Either I try to avoid it, by capitulating or running the other way, or I want to entrench my position and "win." But I've learned through hard experience that neither of these two patterns of behavior—flight or fight—leads to healthy, sustainable solutions.

St. Paul's words to the Romans have inspired me to see that conflicts not only don't have to be destructive, they can and should be springboards to great good. "All things work together for good to them that love God," said Paul, "to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). To me, Paul wasn't consenting to evil being one path to realizing God's will. Rather, he was confident that God has all good in store for us. He saw no place in God's kingdom where good could be absent or inactive. A growing understanding of this has allowed me to approach situations that seem threatening by actively looking for the blessing God has for everyone involved.

I find that the first step in moving beyond flight or fight responses is to align my purpose with God's, to let God's calling be what impels every action. This hallowing of purpose isn't a one-off action; it's an ongoing prayer-based process of listening for, discerning, trusting in, and responding to God's plan, which is complete and includes all the elements necessary for its own fulfillment. In the unfolding of this plan, we can trust that each situation we encounter can result in blessing. Sentinel founder Mary Baker Eddy noted that "... progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil" (Science and Health, p. 233).

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To solve the Russia-Europe energy dispute
March 30, 2009

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