Building Character in the Middle East ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

A recent article by an Israeli commentator, published in this newspaper (March 8), called for moderation in Muslim governments of the Middle East. As I read his words, I could picture the opposite accusation reverberating in the hearts and minds of Palestinian supporters reading the same article - "How about some moderation from the Israeli government in its treatment of its nearest neighbors?"

Even though the political heat of the situation reaches far beyond the countries involved, there are many neutral observers who dearly want to see peace and prosperity for all peoples throughout the Middle East, including Israelis and Palestinians.

I consider myself one of those observers, tracking the media for signs of hope and breakthrough. A bit too erratically perhaps, but sometimes with gusts of insight and inspiration blowing in, I have prayed in response to developments in the Middle East. I feel certain that God's presence and power make a difference. I am convinced that sincere prayers for peace, by people of all faiths, have a positive effect and have contributed to what progress we've seen in recent years.

Prayer leads us to hope for a lessening of extremism in the Middle East and decreasing acts of revenge and violence - for the sake of the perpetrators of violence, as well as its victims. So it caught me by surprise when I felt uncomfortable with the word "moderation" being repeated so many times as I read the commentator's article. "What is your problem with the concept of moderation?" I asked myself.

Moderate means many things, including having average or less than average quality: MEDIOCRE.

The mediocre, my heart cried out, is certainly not what we need in the Middle East! The region's challenges demand inspired leadership and citizenry to stem the murderous Ping-Pong of killing and revenge across the Green Line which separates the Israelis and Palestinians.

Mary Baker Eddy, a keen observer of the news and founder of this newspaper in 1908, once wrote, "The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations. Killing men is not consonant with the higher law whereby wrong and injustice are righted and exterminated" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," page 277). …