Since the release late last year of the Iraq Study Group report in the U.S., the 84-page document has received a lot of attention. It’s been praised for its accurate assessment of the situation in Iraq, and at the same time criticized as a consensus document, lacking the transcendence of individual genius.
But perhaps the report’s value does not lie in its content alone. Maybe it has value simply as an example of an intelligent, honest, earnest attempt to comprehend and chronicle the complex issues — geopolitical, social, economic and religious — that today bring so much hardship and inharmony to that entire region in Middle East.
In fact, the Study Group itself may provide a kind of model for the type of agreement and cooperation that helps bring healing. In just eight short months, its ten distinguished members managed to get beyond political and ideological differences to produce a substantial assessment and 79 recommendations. On top of that, they delivered their report without a dissenting opinion. All of which suggests an extraordinary level of unity.
In 1904 Mary Baker Eddy made this observation about the power of God inspired unity to bless the world: “A great sanity, a mighty something buried in the depths of the unseen, has wrought a resurrection among you, and has leaped into living love. What is this something, this phoenix fire, this pillar by day, kindling, guiding, and guarding your way? It is unity, the bond of perfectness, the thousandfold expansion that will engirdle the world, — unity, which unfolds the thought most within us into the greater and better, the sum of all reality and good.”
I’ve seen the effect of unity at work. Some years ago I found myself responsible for managing a project that had many interested stake-holders with just as many conflicting points of view. It was a complicated project to begin with, made all the more difficult by the many positions the participants were holding and defending. Initially we spent a lot of energy arguing and hearing reasons why it couldn’t be accomplished.
As I worked to move the project forward I made it my business to be completely honest with everyone involved, whether the information I had to tell them was what they might want to hear or not. I felt that if I wanted to gain participants’complete involvement and cooperation I needed respect them enough to trust them with the truth based on unequivocal facts.
I also tried to approach each meeting from the standpoint that we were actually working together toward progress on a single shared endeavor rather than a mismatched and uncoordinated bunch of factions representing different human wills and points of view. My attitude was supported by the Christianly Scientific prayer to see that we had a unified vision and purpose, directed by God, the one Mind, moving our work forward to a timely, effective, and useful conclusion.
As I approached the project in this prayerful way, trusting in the uniting, guiding power of God with us, I noticed participants began to embrace the whole, rather than just their piece of the project. The dynamics changed from adversarial to collegial. And each stage of the work began to move forward more quickly than anticipated so that we were able to complete the job and deliver it several days early.
Every acknowledgement of God’s power to replace chaos in human life with unity and progress, hints at the possibility of achieving this on a worldwide scale. And each one of us can contribute to this effort by living what we understand of God in our present circumstances. Whether praying about a distant world situation, or dealing with an issue close to home, individual prayers can help show that because God is All, there is no insurmountable problem. That because God is Truth, honesty will help establish unity and order. That equitable solutions can properly emerge because God is Principle. That the actions of all participants can express intelligence because God is the Mind governing all.
Instead of being shocked at the relentless pace and complexity of situations, or frustrated at the tricky combination of elements that provoke them, we can confidently, purposefully, and prayerfully acknowledge together that God is present. He is able to supply the right ideas to ameliorate and heal — to promote a “greater and better” world.
Article originally appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel, January 29, 2007.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.