Is a World Without Terrorism Possible?
“WE NEED to be struggling . . . for hearts and minds.” That was the conclusion reached after a 20-year review of the personality profiles of so-called terrorists.
But what can change the hearts and minds of people who have been deeply involved in violent and vengeful activity?
A Book That Can Change the Heart
During the 1990’s, Hafeni began to examine his own religious beliefs and decided to obtain a Bible. He said: “I started by examining the Gospels [the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John], which contain the life story of Jesus. As I read, I was quickly attracted to the personality of Jesus and his kind and impartial way of dealing with people. This warmed my heart.”
Hafeni said that when he read further, “one passage from the Bible really hit home
“I concluded,” Hafeni said, “that it is people themselves who are responsible for tribalism, nationalism, and racial prejudices. I came to realize that the Bible’s message can change people’s thinking and that the most important thing in life is having a good standing with God. This is more important than fighting in behalf of people of a particular tribe, race, or color.”
Joseba, quoted in the preceding article, was the head of a small commando group that planned to blow up a police station. “But before we could carry out this attack,” explained Joseba, “I was arrested and spent two years in prison.” Later, his wife, Luci, began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eventually Joseba joined those discussions.
“As I learned more about Jesus,” reflected Joseba, “he became my role model. One of his statements really touched me, namely: ‘All those who take the sword will perish by the sword.’ I knew this was true.” (Matthew 26:52) Joseba acknowledged: “Assassinating someone only provokes hatred and a desire for revenge by the family members. Violence brings only pain, not a better world.” Joseba began to make adjustments in his thinking.
Both Hafeni and Joseba learned through personal experience that Bible teachings can powerfully affect one’s life. The Bible says that “the word of God is alive and exerts power” and that it can discern the “intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) The power of God’s Word has helped many to adjust their thinking and actions. But is there evidence that global unity exists among those who truly practice Bible teachings?
A Brotherhood Based on Love
When Hafeni began attending meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he was deeply moved by the racial harmony he observed. “Sitting next to white people was an absolute thrill,” he said. “I never thought that in my lifetime I would get the opportunity to call a white man brother. This cemented my conviction that the Witnesses must have the true religion, for they had the unity among themselves that I longed for and had love for each other despite racial differences.”
Jesus said that his true followers would be identified by having ‘love among themselves.’ (John 13:34, 35) He also refused to take part in political conflicts and told his disciples: “You are no part of the world.” (John 6:15; 15:19; Matthew 22:15-22) Love and neutrality were marks of true Christianity then, even as they are today.
Applying What Jesus Taught
But how can love survive in spite of the divisive forces that breed terrorism? When political issues cause hostilities, loyalty to race, nation, or ethnic roots often pits one person
For instance, back in 1914, ethnic pride moved Gavrilo Princip to assassinate Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Princip was a member of an organization called the Black Hand, which, according to its constitution, preferred “revolutionary struggle rather than . . . cultural striving” in pursuing its goals. The assassination sparked war between so-called Christian nations, leading to World War I and the death of millions of combatants who claimed to follow Jesus, the “Prince of Peace.”
After the war ended, a prominent clergyman, Harry Emerson Fosdick, denounced professed Christian leaders for not teaching their members to follow Jesus’ example. “We have bred men for war,” he wrote. “We have made warriors our heroes and even in our churches we have put the battle flags.” Fosdick concluded: “With one corner of our mouth we have praised the Prince of Peace and with the other we have glorified war.”
In contrast, a sociological study published in 1975 stated: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently maintained their stand of nonviolent ‘Christian neutrality’ through two major world wars and the subsequent military clashes of the ‘Cold War’ period.” Even though the Witnesses were mistreated and imprisoned, they “never responded with violence.” The study concluded: “The teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses stem from their conviction that the Bible is the inspired word of God.”
Value of Applying Bible Teachings
When a former prime minister of Belgium received from a neighbor a book about the life of Jesus entitled The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, he was deeply moved by what he read. “It is evident that if people would be more interested in the message of the Gospel and put into practice the principles of Jesus Christ,” he wrote to the neighbor, “the world today would look completely different.”
“We would not need a Security Council,” he added, “nor would there be terrorist attacks, [and] violence would be banned.” Yet, he concluded: “All of this is wishful thinking.” But is it really? Even now, in the midst of a world saturated with violence, the Bible has helped many individuals of all backgrounds to reject the use of violence and to overcome the bitter resentment that builds when people live through decades of wanton bloodshed.
As described in our opening article, Andre was almost killed by a bomb that took the lives of several of his friends. It had been planted by a militant group. He subsequently learned of and applied the Bible advice that one should ‘freely forgive.’ (Colossians 3:13) Later, Hafeni, who years after that bombing became a member of that same group, learned to apply Bible principles and renounced violence. (Psalm 11:5) Now both are Jehovah’s Witnesses and work together in a translation office of the Witnesses in an African country.
Confidence in a Secure Future
Millions of people worldwide are finding that study of the Bible builds in them confidence in a secure future. For example, one day Andre was showing a neighbor the Bible’s promise of a righteous new world. (Isaiah 2:4; 11:6-9; 65:17, 21-25; 2 Peter 3:13) Suddenly, soldiers with automatic weapons surrounded the house and ordered Andre to come out for questioning. After learning that Andre was a Bible teacher whom his neighbor greatly appreciated, the soldiers left.
Andre had just finished explaining that God will intervene in human affairs, as He did in the days of Noah, when “the earth [was] filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11) God removed the world of that time by means of a global flood and preserved alive the peace-loving man Noah and his family. “Just as the days of Noah were,” Jesus said, “so the presence of the Son of man will be.”
Jesus, “the Son of man,” is God’s chosen Ruler of the heavenly government called the Kingdom of God, and he will soon lead God’s heavenly forces in removing violence from the earth. (Luke 4:43) As heavenly King, Jesus will ‘be fair with everyone, and there will be peace.’ He will protect his subjects “from cruel and violent deaths.”
Afterward, all who love what is right and who become subjects of this heavenly King will see the earth transformed into a peaceful paradise. (Luke 23:42, 43) “Peace and justice,” promises the Bible, will “rule every mountain and hill.”
Would you not enjoy living in a world ruled by such a king? Indeed, that will be a world without terrorism.
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Both Hafeni and Joseba learned through personal experience that Bible teachings can powerfully affect one’s life
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‘If people put into practice the principles of Jesus Christ, the world today would look completely different. We would not need a Security Council, nor would there be terrorist attacks, and violence would be banned.’
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Applying Bible principles helped Hafeni and Andre to have genuine love for each other