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Middle East unity–beyond sect or nationality
The Middle East is often framed in terms of division: ongoing clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, mistrust between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, ongoing battles between oppressive regimes and insurgent groups. These divisions can seem both inevitable—they’ve persisted, in some cases, for many years—and daunting. How do we pray about such persistent divisions in the Middle East and elsewhere?
Last winter I spent three months in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan as part of a program focused on peace and sustainability. I had the opportunity to visit sites that are holy to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, which inspired me to pray each day for the region—something I’ve continued to do since.
As I prayed in the Holy Land, it stood out to me that the Christ, which Mary Baker Eddy defines as “the divine message from God … speaking to the human consciousness” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332), is the only communicator, mediator, and unifier—even in an atmosphere of mistrust. Christ communicates to all parties, dissolving the sense of hatred or ego that would stall peaceful resolutions. Christ sees only unity, regardless of sect or nationality.
Another quote from Science and Health gave particular focus to my prayers: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (p. 340).
It was a major shift in my thinking to recognize that God is at work, unifying and correcting each individual! Our job is not to wring our hands about conflict; it is to listen to God, follow, and rejoice as apparent cycles of suffering, punishment, and destruction are minimized and eventually eradicated.
We share the right to experience Love and Truth instead of hatred and divides.
Error, the assumption of a power apart from God, isn’t ever personal. We needn’t attach it to a specific group of people, or let it mask the good that is happening in the Middle East. We have the divine right to think clearly. This doesn’t mean minimizing or ignoring challenges where we perceive them—but it does mean resisting that mode of thinking that would focus only on war, corruption, inequality, oppression, or poverty. Despite the apparent divisions between Israelis and Palestinians that I witnessed in the Holy Land, I was also encouraged to see organizations on both sides of the wall working toward peace and unity.
Healing—not hatred or violence—is what’s natural and inevitable, since “Love must triumph over hate” (Science and Health, p. 43). Spiritual harmony and unity, not conflict, is what’s sanctioned by God. We can insist that humanity cannot be in conflict, as God has designed His creation to live in harmony. And we can expect to behold this same attitude in individuals of any faith, or of no faith at all.
During my time in the Middle East, I was grateful to meet many individuals who know that it is possible to live in harmony in spite of religious differences. And I continue to hold to the idea that “with one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth …” (Science and Health, pp. 469–470). Since God is our Father and Mother, we all share the right to experience Love and Truth instead of hatred and divides. And we share the right to see this Love expressed in patience, understanding, openness, trust, cooperation, and
As we unite in our prayers, we’ll see the diminishment of the concept that clashes between different groups of people—in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world—are inevitable. This kind of prayerful response brings healing to the world.
About the author
Heather Libbe is a Christian Science practitioner.
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