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Lasting Peace

ON May 23, 1995, a formation of thirty-one small airplanes made history by flying from Jerusalem in Israel to Amman, the capital of Jordan. Although the two cities are only forty nautical miles apart, flights between those cities had not been allowed since Israel was founded in 1948. Operation Peace Flight was the first one to break through that mental wall of separation.

At ceremonies after the flight, which was reported in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association magazine, Pilot, King Hussein of Jordan told the participants, ''I never sought peace between only governments and leaders. But a peace between the people is a true peace and the only one that can last. There is no other way to carry out our obligation to future generations'' (August 1995).

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Each of us can participate in gaining this peace between peoples by starting right where we are. Here's an example from the Bible that shows how two people were able to head off a major feud before it got out of hand. Abram and his nephew Lot were both well off. But trouble broke out between their herdsmen because there wasn't enough land to support both men's livestock.

Instead of allowing the fighting to increase, Abram, who loved God and listened for His guidance, said to Lot, ''Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren'' (Genesis 13:8). This approach led to a solution to their problem. To me, it is also a kind of promise, a way of bridging separation between people and finding peace.

By recognizing that as God's creation ''we be brethren,'' we see that we have a relationship to one another and that God, infinite Love, is our Father. It is much harder to hate if we feel that connection, if we are truly acting like brethren. And we can apply this way of thinking about our fellow humans to those we see on the news or learn about in other ways.

When we do this, we are working on the side of peace. To whatever degree we are able truly to love each other, as Christ Jesus taught, we are actively working to eliminate war-not just in our hometowns but in the Middle East, in Nigeria, in Bosnia, and elsewhere in the world.

The ultimate solution to war, however, is given by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. In an article in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany called, ''How Strife may be Stilled,'' she says: ''The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue-'Thou shalt have no other gods before me'-obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife. God is the divine Mind. Hence the sequence: Had all peoples one Mind, peace would reign'' (p. 279).

Knowing ourselves to be the offspring of divine Mind is recognizing that we are spiritual. Because there is only one Mind, we have inherent unity in this Mind. This grasp of the true nature of man changes everything. Instead of being mortal entities, filled with distrust, greed, fear, and selfishness, we are actually the ideas of an infinite, loving, and intelligent Mind. Our true prospects, then, are not for war but for peace.

Such unity means that in an ultimate sense no one's interests can work against another's for ''we be brethren.'' It also requires that we practice this concept in all directions. For example, we can't allow ourselves to exploit one another, any more than we should let hatred or anger persist in our consciousness. The love that exists between brethren should inform every decision we make both on a personal level and also on the professional and global scene.

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Such spiritual self-discipline may seem difficult at times, especially if revenge or other hateful elements seem alluring. And peace may also seem far off when parties to the struggle seem unwilling to yield. But if each of us is willing to take even small steps in this direction, we will be building a framework for peace that will bless both ourselves and future generations.

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