News reports from the Swat Valley suggest a country balanced on a knife edge. Troops are fighting the Taliban in that area, and it's believed that up to 500,000 refugees could flee Swat as a result ("Pakistanis flee Swat Valley as military strikes Taliban," The Christian Science Monitor, May 7). Although it's possible that the refugees will help government forces defeat the Taliban, there are more uncertainties than certainties on the ground.
It can seem impossible to discover what the best way forward should be â€“ and many lives hang in the balance. Given that Pakistan is a nuclear power, the achievement of stability and peace seems especially important.
Many nations have been asked to help, and in April, the US, Britain, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and some others pledged $5.3 billion in budget support ("A real offensive, or a phoney war?" Economist.com, April 30). Many billions above that amount have already been spent in previous years, however, and the results don't seem commensurate with the cost.
The question then is: Where can genuine help come from? These verses help me pray about the situation: "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Ps. 61:1, 2).
It can be useful to think of "the rock" as the Christ, the spiritual idea of God that was so fully expressed by Jesus and that transcends human ability or reasoning. The Christ is God's law of love in action, present with us today. It is the spiritual message from God to His idea, man â€“ including both male and female. Using the language of Spirit, the Christ can speak in everyone's heart, no matter what religious belief an individual may espouse. Wherever there is a need for guidance, for intelligent decisions, for kindness and mercy â€“ the Christ is present to comfort and to save.
This healing power has its source in divine Love, which cherishes all its children â€“ that's you and me and all people, even the ones we think of as our enemies. It includes everyone in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Its healing influence can reveal ways that people can think differently about one another, be more able to take off the labels that separate them, and find ways to work together for the common good.
Our prayers to support peace through a higher understanding of one another and of God can forward this process. To put one's thoughts and acts on a spiritual basis reveals God not only as Principle, or the divine Lawgiver, but also as divine Love, which is merciful and intelligent.
Will such prayer bring about instant change in Pakistan? Based on previous experience, maybe not. But we can keep our thoughts open to the possibility of a lasting peace that includes all parties working together for the overall good of the country. The Christ-message â€“ uniting all people in the quest for good â€“ will enable them to see beyond the barriers dividing them, whether these are religious, political, local, or national. Unity born of reliance on God's love for humanity has its basis in the oneness of God and His divine purpose that all people should be blessed.
As God's spiritual offspring, each of us actually expresses the one divine Mind with all its intelligence, wisdom, purity, goodness, love, truth, strength. And the people of Pakistan also include these spiritual qualities. No one can actually be deprived of them. The oneness of Mind also removes the belief that unity can come about only through forcing a set of material minds with their various views, goals, and aspirations into a single mold, and then trying to get them to stick together. That won't work for long, if at all.
If, on the other hand, we allow Mind to hold the control and realize that each of us is the reflection of Mind's nature and qualities, obedient to God's purpose, it will be easier to support a united outcome that results from love, not pressure. Solutions based on obedience to God's good purpose will be more likely to stand the test of time.
All these things really can come about through prayer. Even if you can pray only one moment on behalf of peace in Pakistan, this seemingly small contribution is not insignificant. Each prayer supports a step in the right direction. And it does make a difference.