Kosovo's declaration of independence last month brings with it both dangers and opportunities. The reaction of some world leaders and the violent demonstrations in Serbia and Mitrovica show that the road ahead is challenging.
The record of strife and ethnic cleansing in this part of the world shows the enormous need of preventing passions from getting out of control. Many are striving to counter the forces trying to inflame the situation further. The Monitor quoted a longtime UN official who said, "What we need now is a gigantic leap out of the Balkans and into Europe, mentally and culturally. Both Serbs and Albanians need to stop thinking about the past, revenge, history, and focus on the future" ("Kosovo looks to cautious next steps," Feb. 16).
Many have lost their families and homes; entire villages have been wiped out. How can one start anew?
The most effective and healing method of getting beyond past hurts and the desire for revenge is prayer that's based on a conviction that God actually is governing the nations and the world. Such prayer relies on Him as the omnipotent source of all wisdom, so its guidance is workable and intelligent. But it is also transforming, as this promise of God's care makes clear: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).
The renewing power revealed by prayer is expressed on the human scene as Christ, God's message of love to each of us. Christ transforms seemingly untransformable situations because it expresses God's equal measure of love for all His children. It makes all things new; never favors one over the other or makes one "newer" than the other. The effect is that all hearts change, although some may change at a different rate from others.
The newness that comes from Christ lifts off the burdens of the past, removes the self-justification and hatred that lead to revenge. It brightens the future. But to receive this blessing, people need to be open to it, and here is a place where those of us who are not in Kosovo can contribute to that nation's peace and stability.
This statement in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" can help give focus to our prayers. It's by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper and discovered Christian Science, who kept a sharp eye on national and international affairs during her long lifetime. She wrote, "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars ..." (p. 340).
Mrs. Eddy introduced the concept of God as one infinite Mind, and of creation as composed of Mind's spiritual ideas, or children, all dwelling in harmony within this Mind. In our prayers, it's possible to affirm that all individuals – including those in Kosovo – are responsive to the one Mind, and can see past old mental habits that would divide society up into "us" and "them."
Because God is one, He sees His creation as one, with all its elements united in infinite Love and infinite Truth. This creation is spiritual, not material. When issues reach a stalemate, taking the time to see them from a spiritual standpoint can open the way to a healing outcome. For example, of the possible choices a government may be considering, which is the highest right – the one closest to expressing love for all citizens? Or to establishing the loving but firm approach to law that divine Principle expresses? Praying about the motivation for government action can make a big difference. It can enable one to discover hidden political agendas, racism or other prejudices, or to discern other motives that are actually driving the demand for change.
This kind of prayer can benefit any country, but right now, with Kosovo newly minted and working through the issues that involve nationhood, giving Kosovo some extra prayer would provide support for that country and its neighbors.