Prayer: A Solution to Personal and Political Terrorism
Jack Edward Hubbell, C.S.B, of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Did you have an opportunity to
check out the world news in today's newspaper? How did you react? Did you feel
discouraged, frustrated, or perhaps angry? After all, it seems as if one news
item after another depicts acts of violence, conflict, terrorism, or the threat
of terrorism. In
Have governments found a solution to the problem of terrorism? No! In the first place, some officials feel that increased security, including direct material retaliation, only indicate to the terrorist organizations that they are successfully achieving their goal of spreading fear. Hence it encourages them to continue their activities.
In the second place, what appears as a terrorist to one government might be seen as a freedom fighter to another. Some governments tie acts of terrorism to the fighting of injustice and tyranny and so excuse such action. Their views have influenced the United Nations and various international forums in writing inter-national laws.
In his essay, "Terrorism and the Law," Abraham Sofaer, General Counsel to our State Department, presents much documentary evidence to show that international law actually legitimizes terrorism, rather than countering it1.
For example, Article 1.4 of Protocol I of the Geneva Diplomatic Conference states that terrorists are not criminals, but legitimate soldiers of war. Does this mean that acts of terrorism are legal?
In the third place, while all acts
of terrorism have the same motive, not all acts of terrorism have the same
cause. For instance, the cause in
All of which shows why today many government officials feel the situation is hopeless. Well, if government officials feel inadequate, what good can we here possibly do to help? I've spent months researching terrorism, and I'm far from an authority on the subject. But one thing I do know: prayer is effective in solving any problem. And so I invite you to consider why prayer is the solution to terrorism, and not only political terrorism. There are many other kinds of terrorism: any form of personal intimidation, of being threatened, pressured, victimized by another individual. The individual may be a fellow commuter on the freeway, an employer, neighbor, or even a family member.
The answer is prayer. Look at what Christ Jesus accomplished through prayer. Now, you may think, "Well, Jesus . . . but me?" Why was he so successful? Traditional theology tells us it was because God gave him a special dispensation which enabled him to perform miracles, a dispensation he alone received. But then, if this is true, how could Jesus have made his tremendous statement, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do."2 How do we explain this? Well, let's suppose Jesus' works were not the result of a special dispensation, but rather were the demonstration of a law. Now, a law must be universal and timeless, or else it isn't law. Then anyone who understands the law would be capable of performing great works.
When Jesus accomplished his marvelous works, he was not setting aside or annulling law. Rather, he was demonstrating law – a spiritual law, yes – but a law. Every law he demonstrated is still operative and available to you and me, here and now. To understand and utilize these divine laws is to pray scientifically.
Let me expand a bit on what I mean by "scientific prayer." The term "science" as used in relation to Christianity, dates back to the earliest period of Christian history. Around the year 400 A.D., a theological scholar, named Jerome, translating from earlier Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, gave us the Vulgate Bible, still used today in some Roman Catholic churches. In this Bible we find these two phrases: "scientiam Jesu Christe domine mei," the Science of Christ, and "scientiam Dei," the Science of God.3
Almost 1500 years later, a woman
She then put her discovery to the test, and the results were extremely successful. Wanting to share her discovery with the world, she wrote a textbook and titled it, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Now, this book is not a substitute for the Bible. Rather, it reemphasizes the divine principles presented in the Bible and shows how these laws can be demonstrated as a system. Scientific prayer is the application of these divine laws, which continue to be available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. That's why scientific prayer continues to be successful.
Let me give you an example. During the Korean War, an American pilot was wounded when his plane was damaged in conflict. The pilot managed to fly back to his base, but when he crash-landed, the plane burst into flames, and he was critically injured. The doctors said he could not survive another hour, and a priest was called to render the last rites. But he noticed from the dog tags that the pilot was a Christian Scientist. So a Christian Scientist, a college friend of mine, was called to the pilot's bedside. He began to pray scientifically. Presently the pilot regained consciousness, and they continued to pray together. The healing that resulted was so remarkable and immediate, that the astonished doctor acknowledged that the healing was the result of prayer.
I find this experience very thought-provoking. I simply can't shrug it off as a coincidence, especially when taken in context with thousands of carefully authenticated cases of healing through Christianly scientific prayer. Such healings don't just happen only to the other person.
Every problem solved through prayer is the result of a change of consciousness, indicating a very definite relation between our human consciousness and our human experience. But what does this physical healing have to do with eliminating terrorism? Christian Science recognizes that as surely as a picture on a screen is the objectification of a slide in a projector, so is our human experience the objectification of our human consciousness. Therefore, if we need to improve our human experience we must improve our consciousness. This is what prayer does. It transforms our thinking from a material to a spiritual basis. This, in turn, brings a transformation of the body as we saw with the pilot. But it can also transform business, home, human relationships, nation, and world.
One of my favorite historians and
military analysts, Michael Howard of
In the Bible,
To be spiritually minded requires an understanding of God. Well, who or what is God? Jesus defined God as Spirit. He taught that God is First Cause, the good, perfect, and only creator of all being. We also learn from the Bible that God is the one and only source of all law, and therefore He must be divine Principle. He is the one and only source of all intelligence; therefore He is divine Mind. God is the one and only source of love; therefore He is divine Love.
Now, a perfect cause which is Spirit wouldn't have an imperfect effect which is material. Therefore, man, the effect of God, must be perfect and spiritual or, as the Bible tells us, man made in the image and likeness of God.
This concept of a perfect, spiritual creation may seem absurd in view of the fact that existence appears to be one hundred percent material and mankind to be imperfect. But many things appear to be true that aren't. For instance, we accept that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and this is true, relative to our point of view on earth. But absolutely speaking it is not true. It's the earth that rotates, not the sun.
Christian Science recognizes as absolute reality only that which God creates. God, perfect cause, doesn't create imperfection. So, what appears as such must be a false, relative view of God's perfect creation. Christian Science does not ignore the relative picture, but it endeavors to become conscious of reality from God's point of view.
It was Jesus' spiritual-mindedness that enabled him to understand something about absolute reality, which was unknown to the rest of mankind. For centuries Christians have thought of Christ mainly as the person Jesus. Christian Science makes a distinction in the relation between Jesus and Christ. Jesus was the man who, more than any other man, demonstrated Christ. What is the Christ he demonstrated? The Christ is God's presentation to human consciousness of divine, absolute truth. This truth appears to us as idea, an absolute true idea, which corrects the false concepts within our consciousness.
Jesus represented Christ, but he had no monopoly of absolute truth. That's why Paul could say, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."6 "Christ in you" is you being conscious of what is absolutely true. Why is this important? Because, as we improve our human consciousness, we improve our human experience. That's why the Christlike thought is the basis of prayer – Christlike thought and not human or political opinions. Because of political prejudice, inter-national law has been ineffective in dealing with terrorism. If prayer is to be effective, we can't make the same mistake.
Let me ask you a question: Do your political opinions influence how you pray? Or does your prayer determine your human and political opinions? Remember, what is a terrorist to one might appear as a freedom fighter to another.
For instance, two European
governments refused to extradite to the
During the dark days of the
American Civil War, a woman in conversation with President Lincoln said,
"Let us pray that God will be on our side." Without hesitation,
The point is that unless our prayer includes the sincere desire to know the right and willingness to depart from the wrong, we pray in vain. Prayer is not the means through which we establish our will, but rather discover God's will. God's will is always good. It embraces all mankind in justice, harmony, and peace.
A few terrorists may consider themselves a modern day William Tell or Robin Hood, fighting injustice and oppression. Surely there are great inequalities in the world today. But terrorism can never be justified. Even if man appears to be oppressed and the victim of tyranny surely God, infinite Love, does not require acts of terrorism to establish justice.
In the Bible we read, "If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they."8 God's goodness is infinitely more powerful than the terrorist's unbridled willfulness, hatred, and self-serving desire to gain political control for himself.
To the great heart of divine Love, no man is victimized, deprived, forced out of his right home, or forced into a wrong place.
One of the basic problems through the centuries has been mankind's acceptance that good is limited, that there isn't enough good to go around. Today's economists speak of this as "zero sum:" only one plot of ground for two people, and so, if A gains, B must lose. Redividing so that B gains and A loses isn't really a solution at all. But there is no shortage of the mathematical digits 2, 3, 5, or 7. We have all we need. The supply is unlimited. No one can take away your supply. Nor do we think of them as our private possessions. Why? Because they exist within our consciousness. When Jesus fed thousands with only a few loaves and fishes, he surely proved that substance is within consciousness.
Divine consciousness, God, has unlimited resources with which to bless mankind. If man truly understood this, he would not commit violence and terrorism to make gain. Some individuals have resorted to terrorism because the opposition refuses to negotiate, while the opposition often refuses to negotiate for fear that if the other gains, he must lose.
Let me share with you an experience, which should shed some light on this point. While I was employed by a company, which designed and manufactured electronic test equipment, the labor union and management failed to agree on the terms of a new contract. The union also filed seventeen grievances against the company. After several weeks of negotiation without a solution, a strike was called. The strike continued for three weeks without an agreement. Finally, an impartial mediator was utilized. But still there was no settlement.
Things were at an impasse and great bitterness was felt by both sides. Then one day, the chairman of the board called me and asked if I would take over the negotiations the next morning. I explained that I had no experience in labor-management negotiation. But he knew I was a Christian Scientist, and he expressed confidence that a settlement could be reached through prayer.
I agreed to do what I could. I spent about an hour looking over the proposed terms of the new contract and the grievances. I considered the possibility of a compromise, but I knew one couldn't compromise with a mathematical principle. It seemed to me the solution should be on principle. The question was: "What is the principled solution?" And so I turned God in prayer. These words of Paul were comforting: "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."9
I knew that God is divine Principle and infinite Love. Therefore, His will must be good and could injure no man. Furthermore, I reasoned that God is the one and only Mind, which each individual reflects. So it was not a matter of the meeting of the minds, but rather, one divine Mind being reflected by each individual. So each individual was reflecting the same mind. Therefore, there could be no conflict of opinions or conflict of interest.
I continued in prayer most of the night until I felt at peace. The next morning I sat alone on one side of the table. On the other side were seated seven individuals representing the union.
I opened the meeting by saying something to the effect, "You and I both agree on the mathematical principle that two plus two equals four. There is not a labor two plus two equals four and a management two plus two equals four. There is just one principle of two plus two equals four. I haven't come to initiate a solution in favor of management or labor, but in accordance with principle, and I am confident you're here to do the same."
By three o'clock that very same afternoon, we had agreed on the terms of the contract, and sixteen of the seventeen grievances had been settled. The strike was called off, and the following Monday the union members voted to ratify the new contract and also settled the last grievance. All conflict between labor and management simply vanished. No one lost; no one was deprived of good.
So far we have been discussing what scientific prayer can accomplish. Now let's take a moment to review what prayer is and how one prays.
Actually, there are three general types of prayer: prayer through petition, prayer through argument, and prayer through realization, the ultimate prayer.
The first, prayer through petition, is the most prevalent form of prayer in the world today. But it implies a separation between God and man. It indicates that we are here and we must plead our case to a benevolent God way up there. Nevertheless, it is a turning to God, and hence a recognition of Him. When we sincerely seek to do God's will and turn to Him for guidance and understanding, our prayers are answered. Jesus said, "Ask, and ye shall receive."10
Now, the second, prayer through argument, is a scientific approach. It requires logical reasoning from a spiritual basis. It is similar to what one would do in a court of law when defending an innocent man. The defense attorney must resolve what appears as substantial, incriminating evidence into nothing more than a lie or false evidence about an innocent man. The attorney simply reveals the innocence of the defendant.
Likewise, prayer through argument resolves what appears as substantial, physical evidence of imperfection into a lie or false evidence about a perfect man. In prayer through argument we deny the relative, false testimony of the physical senses. We affirm the absolute truth about God and man. That's why Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." 11 Such affirming doesn't make God's creation perfect. It's because it's perfect that we affirm it. Such prayer doesn't improve an imperfect man; it disproves the lie about a perfect man.
But prayer through argument may not always be necessary. There may be days when one is so conscious of God's love and presence that no element of inharmony exists within our thought. Hence there is no need to argue. Actually, prayer through argument simply lifts one's thought to the third and ultimate form of prayer: prayer through realization.
Prayer through realization recognizes no separation between God and man. Mrs. Eddy speaks of such prayer as the angel idea, Gabriel. She writes, "The Gabriel of His presence has no contests. To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death."12 Or, as the Bible puts it, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."13
Although we call it the ultimate form of prayer, doesn't mean that it can only be practiced by the most spiritually minded people. A little child often prays by realizing God's presence and great love. So, such prayer is not in words or the repeating of words. We don't just say such a prayer; we must live our prayer. The more we live our prayer, the less we need to argue. Living our prayer is praying without ceasing. It is being conscious of God's presence and love. Love is the vital part of prayer, not just human affection but the divine quality of Love.
Jesus said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."14 Did I read this right? Love and prayer for our enemies? How can we love or pray for a terrorist, a Quadaffi or Khomeini?
Obviously a word of clarification is in order. The Bible tells us that Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity. It doesn't say he hated man. Why? Well, surely Jesus did not accept that God, the perfect creator, created a man that commits iniquity. If God did, He wouldn't be a perfect creator. Iniquity is no part of the man God created. Therefore, what appears as an evil man must be a false, relative view.
Since the beginning of the human race, man, relying on the physical senses, has made the mistake of considering evil to be person. Thus we line up good persons on one hand and evil persons on the other. If you want to get rid of evil, you kill the person. But in the light of absolute truth, we learn there are not two kinds of men – good and bad – but one alone, all good. That's the only kind of man God creates. As we read in the Bible, "God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good."15
Well, then, how do we explain evil, the evil qualities of hatred, bellicism, and self-justification that would cause an act of terrorism? Where do they come from? Certainly not from God! And since God is the only cause, they can only be classified as suppositional opposites of reality. Nor can these qualities gain reality by attaching themselves to God's man. This is no more possible than darkness could gain existence by attaching itself to a sunbeam.
Evil qualities only seem to be real as we give these objectivity as a part of man. Therefore, we must separate these qualities from man and refuse to give them witness. We call this impersonalizing evil. Without man to give it witness, terrorism couldn't exist. We destroy terrorism as we impersonalize it.
Now, I'd like to stress the point that Christian Scientists are not naive optimists. The Science of Christianity never advocates ignoring evil, the sin in the world, or simply withdrawing from it. Rather, Christian Scientists address evil's claim to be a person, place, or thing. We do so in our own consciousness. The battle is not against people, but against the belief that evil is person. Of course, this relative picture of an evil person seems to be so real, so vivid, that it is difficult to reject. It's easy to say; but not that easy to do.
Think of it this way. If you could put on a pair of glasses that would enable you to see your fellow man as God created him, what would you see? Why, a perfect man! Well, you don't need such glasses; all you need is spiritual sense. With spiritual sense, you'll see beyond the mask of ungodlike qualities and behold more clearly the man God created, and this man is easy to love.
What appears as an evil person is simply a failure to be conscious of the man God created. It is a mesmerized state of thought. Just suppose you were hypnotized into believing that the individual seated next to you is a terrorist. What would you do? Make a break for it or stay and pray? But if you pray to change the man, you'd be working from a false premise.
The problem isn't the individual. The problem is your misconception about the individual as a result of being hypnotized. So, we must deal with the hypnotized state of thought and not focus our attention on the decoy of an evil man.
But the question comes, "But what if the person really is a terrorist?" The same principle applies. Hypnotism is not restricted to the action of one individual's mind over another. Actually, it is the acceptance of general world belief, universal error, the suppositional opposite of divine Truth. How do we deal with this? Through spiritual-mindedness. Spiritual-mindedness is the Christ in you. It is thinking as God causes you to think. God doesn't cause you to be hypnotized, but awakens you to the realization of what is absolutely true.
While I was attending college, a
good friend and fellow student named
Bev decided to pray about the situation. She had learned to separate ungodlike qualities from man. She reasoned that right where, to the physical senses, a belligerent youngster appeared to be – a holy terror or terrorist, so to speak – right there, in absolute truth, was the peaceful child God created. She continued with such prayerful argument until she felt at peace. She decided to accept the job.
She arrived at the park armed with crayons, paper, some books, and games. But, instead of finding a few young children, she was surprised to see a large group that included all ages. When she introduced herself to the group, one of the young men, about seventeen years old, stepped up and without saying a word, reached down into his leather boot, pulled out a large switch blade knife, and suddenly threw the knife at her so that it stuck in the ground between her feet.
It was hardly a loving act; the threat was perfectly clear. What do you think she did? What would you have done? She immediately responded, "Wow, are you good at throwing that knife! I wish I could do that. Would you teach me? The startled young man was silent for a moment, and then picked up his knife and said, "Yes, ma'am, I sure will."
That was the end of the confrontation. Late that afternoon, several young people escorted Bev to the bus stop, as they thought it was too dangerous for her to walk alone. They waited with her for the bus to arrive, and assured her they would be there in the morning, so they could escort her back to the playground. She continued to work there all summer, and she made many good friends.
Was this happy ending the result of using a little psychology to get on the good side of the young man? No, it was the result of her conviction that good is the natural state of the man that God created.
Remember, Jesus said, "Love your enemies."16 Does this mean that if we use a little psychology and are sweet and kind to our enemies, they will be nice to us? Definitely not! History shows this rarely occurs. But it does mean that if we, through prayer, separate ungodlike qualities from our enemy, these false qualities will disappear from want of a witness. Then we will see more clearly the man God created. The man God created is no enemy.
Holding in our consciousness a correct view of man is vital in our prayer for ending terrorism. Why? Because, as we have been discussing, our human experience is the objectification of our human consciousness.
You may be thinking, "O.K., I
can accept that improving my consciousness can improve my human experience. But
I'm not the terrorist. It's the other guy. How is changing my consciousness
going to change him?" Well, it won't change absolute reality, the perfect
man God created. But it will change our misconception of the man God created.
This is important because our safety and peace often seem to depend on
"the other guy," whether he's in
To illustrate this point, I'd like
to tell you about a lady-friend of mine. She boarded a bus in
She became so absorbed in her prayer that she didn't realize the man was looking at her. He said, "But here sits a lady. Anyone can see . . . she's a lady." He sat down across the aisle from her and was quiet. Later, when she arose to get off the bus, he too, stood, took off his hat, put it over his heart, and quietly said, "God bless you, lady. Thank you for what you've done for me today."
A man who incites hatred by his thoughts and acts is a fellow that needs a friend. I'm confident that, at that point, my friend was grateful she had not been on another bus.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Miscellaneous Writings, "Holding the right idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people's individuality, health, and morals; . . ."17 That's why, if we love our enemies, we'll have no enemies.
It's interesting to note that my friend never spoke directly to the man. She was dealing with her own state of consciousness, which obviously embraced the man with loving thoughts. Every individual is receptive, in some degree, to love. Since she was dealing with her own state of consciousness, the physical proximity to the individual was not a factor. Then, wouldn't this same principle of prayer apply to a terrorist or any enemy anywhere in the world, no matter how far away they are?
Now, we've spent this evening discussing how prayer can eliminate terrorism, and we've focused our attention on the man that is the terrorist. Is this sufficient, or should our prayers also include the man in the government who formulates policy? After all, government action derived from human opinions may be unjust and bring discord. But government by divine Principle assures harmony.
Therefore, isn't it just as imperative that we pray for leaders in government, pray that they will see God's will and do it? Such prayer can help those in government express an even greater degree of wisdom, patience, restraint, and courage. A government leader, made in the image and likeness of God, is not prejudiced one way or the other, doesn't make mistakes, is not greedy or bellicose. The leader God created must express the qualities of intelligence, honesty, justice, even-handedness, peace, and love.
Well, don't we want to see these
Godlike qualities expressed by all leaders, whether they are in
Divine Love is the motivating power which gives impulse to the divine law that governs mankind. The power of Love destroys the love of power.
Now let's sum up things. You are not responsible for the actions of the terrorist. The terrorist is responsible for his own acts. But, like the woman on the bus, you are responsible for what you accept in your consciousness as true about another person. If we are conscious of something, then – and only then – is it real to us. So the name of the game is to become conscious of reality of God's perfect creation, and in proportion that we do, we begin to see more clearly the man God created. The man God created we need not fear.
Prayer is not the means for one person to change another. Prayer doesn't change reality; it reveals reality. The absolute truth you realize here is true everywhere.
Do you really want to help eliminate terrorism? You can! You have what it takes! You have the Christ within you!
So, tomorrow morning when you pick up the newspaper, don't react – act! Talking about prayer won't help. We must pray. Pray and the world will be a better place because of you. Now let's go to it!
1 Abraham Sofaer, "Terrorism and the Law" Foreign Affairs, Summer, 1986.
2 John l4:12 He (to 2nd;).
3 Phil. 3:8; II Cor. 10:5.
4 Howard, Michael, The Causes of War, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984)
5 Romans 8:6 to.
7 Terrorism and the Law, p. 907.
8 Eccl. 5:8.
9 Phil. 2:13 it.
10 John 16:24 ask (to 2nd,).
11 John 8:32 ye.
12 Science and Health 567:6-8.
13 I John 1:5 God.
14 Matt. 5:44 Love.
15 Gen. 1:31 God (to 1st.).
16 Matt. 5:44 Love (to 1st,).
17 Mis. 62:1-3 (to;).
©1991 Jack Edward Hubbell
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