The Basic Causes of Today’s Pressures
WHERE does the fault lie? Today’s world enjoys modern inventions, conveniences, and increased leisure time. It has speed, power and efficiency. It has advanced forms of organization in government and social welfare. Yet today there is probably more discontent, irritation and frustration on earth than at any previous time. Why? Something is clearly wrong. But what?
The fault goes much deeper than man’s inventions or the governmental and social structures that he has built up.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
To illustrate, consider a construction company in a certain country that uses cement from the only cement plant in that country. Using that cement, the company puts up a large government building, then a factory, later an apartment house, a school, finally a bridge. But one by one each of these constructions develops structural weaknesses that lead to breakage or even collapse. The construction company tries again and again, rebuilding or putting up entirely new structures, using new plans, designs and methods. But the results are always the same.
Should the company keep on trying still other plans and methods to solve the problem? The problem lies with the basic structural material: the cement. It is deficient in strength, working fairly well in smaller structures but manifesting more clearly its deficiency when subject to the stress and strain of a larger structure. A chemical analysis may reveal its hidden weakness.
Only if the company finds a way to compensate for or counteract this weakness in the cement, perhaps by adding certain ingredients, can it attain a measure of success.
So, too, with mankind.
Men have tried to bring about a peaceful, prosperous, joyful world. They have formed political governments of all kinds and types, an unending succession that goes on till our day. They have developed many other systems—social, economic, educational and others—in wide variety, all designed to make life on earth pleasant, successful, rewarding. History, however, is filled with the evidence of the breakdown of one after the other of these governments and systems. Today we see them all showing clear signs of giving way under stress.
Should we expect that by some new plans, designs or methods, by shifting or juggling their political, economic and social leadership around, men can change matters and convert failure into success? No, because something is wrong with the basic material that forms all these governments and systems. What is that material?
They form the governments and other systems that control life on earth. They make the inventions and machines and factories and use them—or misuse them.
This may sound simple. Yet the designers and builders of today’s world consistently fail to deal with this basic problem. There is clearly a defect, not just in certain rulers, leaders or parties, but in mankind as a whole that causes these failures. The Bible reveals what it is: sin. The Bible also supplies the needed “ingredients” for counteracting that defect in a measurable way now.
Do you object to that explanation? Some do. But where does that leave them? What other satisfying explanation can they give for mankind’s consistent failure to solve its problems?
The Real Change Needed
Actually, though they may shy away from using the term “sin,” men of this world are obliged to acknowledge that any bringing of real relief from today’s pressures must unavoidably be tied in with a change in people. But do they know how to bring this about? Listen:
Regarding crime, for instance, Congressman James H. Scheuer of New York says: “Crime is a social problem that is interwoven with almost every aspect of American life. . . . controlling it means changing the minds and hearts of men.”—To Walk the Streets Safely, pp. 191, 192.
On city deterioration, noted authority Edward C. Banfield says: “Doubtless a ‘change in the heart and minds of men’ would solve a great many problems. But how is such a change to be brought about? Until the means are specified, this ‘solution’ must be dismissed as utopian.”—The Unheavenly City, p. 240.
Of war and violence, former French president Charles de Gaulle wrote: “Hope though we may, what reason have we for thinking that passion and self-interest, the root cause of armed-conflict in men and in nations, will cease to operate; . . . in short, that human nature will ever become something other than it is?”—The Edge of the Sword, pp. 8, 9.
Yes, the root cause of the pressures that weigh so heavily on us lies primarily with people and their “passion and self-interest.” Use whatever terms men may, the Bible truth remains that man is by nature sinful. Just what does “sin” mean?
Mankind ‘Misses the Mark’
In the languages in which the Bible was written (Hebrew and Greek) the words translated “sin” mean simply “to miss,” that is, in the sense of missing or not attaining a certain goal, way or mark.
What is the goal, way or mark that mankind is missing or failing to reach?
It is the goal of being in harmony with their Creator, Jehovah God, with his personality, standards and ways. The Bible states that God created man in his own image, in the likeness of God. Just as a son should resemble his father, man should resemble his Creator—not in appearance, for God is spirit, but in His ways, qualities and standards.—Gen. 1:26, 27; John 4:24; 1 Cor. 11:7.
However, the Bible reveals that the first human pair turned against their Creator under the influence of a traitorous spirit son of God. God allowed that first human pair to produce offspring and the earth has become populated with their descendants, among whom we are numbered. But just like the cement plant that produced defective cement, the rebellious human pair’s offspring have all been defective. They have been born imperfect and sinful by the process of heredity.
So, as the apostle Paul wrote, all men “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) They miss the mark. Not only does their body reveal this because it eventually ages, breaks down and dies, but even more so do humans reveal their defect in their ways, their thinking, the things they strive for.
But how does this explain why our generation should see such a tremendous increase in stress and tension? People have been on earth for thousands of years. Why have things worsened so notably in our time?
To this the Bible also gives a straightforward answer. Its reply is summed up in this rule: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) You cannot sow weeds and reap wheat, nor sow poison ivy and harvest grapes. And it is just as true that a person cannot sow what is wrong and reap what is good.
What is true of an individual is just as true of nations or of the human race as a whole. For centuries men and nations have shoved aside God’s Word or rendered him only hypocritical lip service. They have not sought his guidance nor submitted to his will but have followed their own ambitions, their own ideas. Today they are reaping their crops on a worldwide scale. Harvesttime has arrived for all mankind. What have they produced? A paradise of peace, pleasantness and plenty? No, but a weed patch of delinquency, broken families, crime and violence, with sick cities, polluted streams, lakes and land. It could not be otherwise. For “God is not one to be mocked.”—Gal. 6:7.
The Other Major Cause of Pressure
But have all these things been just the results of man’s own imperfection? Can this account for all the horrors inflicted upon mankind throughout history, and especially in our time? So often have terrible things happened to the human family that it seems they are drawn into tragic events like puppets on a string. Why? Why do entire nations rush into a course that borders on insanity, commit horrible atrocities, systematically torture and slaughter millions of people?
Is it possible that mankind has been and is being influenced by forces beyond human control? Are unseen powers manipulating the nations, pressuring them?
We are not suggesting pressures from some imaginary creatures living on other planets.
But there is this fact: throughout human history men and nations that have carried out almost unbelievable acts of violence and cruelty have expressed belief in powers superior to man.
You may be inclined to discard as pure superstition and imagination the possibility that anti-God spirit forces exist. But why is it that, despite abandoning hundreds of superstitions, despite changes in their religions and in the names of their gods, men have kept on looking to such invisible spirit forces for thousands and thousands of years right down to today? Why has such worship played such a major and persistent role in all periods of human history? Why do even educated men in modern times—including many college and professional athletes, military men and men in a wide range of professions—carry “lucky charms”?
A notable example of one who sought the aid of invisible forces was Hitler, known to have been extremely devoted to astrology as well as other occult practices. We all know the atrocities committed during his regime.
More recently, when a mass slaughter of an estimated 400,000 persons took place in Indonesia, one of Indonesia’s most distinguished writers commented: “There is a devil in us and when it gets loose, we can run amok en masse.”
The Bible alone gives a sound explanation for all this. It shows that man’s sinful course has indeed been made even worse by invisible spirit forces and that this is the second basic cause underlying today’s pressures.
For that reason, at Ephesians 6:11, 12, Christians are urged: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”
Here God’s Word shows the need to protect ourselves from wicked spirit forces in heavenly places, the “world rulers of this darkness.” The real fight is not against humans but against these invisible forces headed by Satan the Devil. Jesus spoke of him as “the ruler of the world.”—John 14:30.
But how, in view of God’s almightiness, could such a condition exist? The Bible shows that it is because of the issues raised by Satan when he first rebelled against God. Especially did he contest the rightfulness of Jehovah’s rule. He then induced other spirit sons of God to join in his rebellion.
Bible prophecy in the book of Revelation further reveals that these invisible forces play a large part in the increase of pressures felt today. It shows that these spirit forces have been ousted from the heavens in our day and cast down to the vicinity of the earth. The evidence already presented points to the year 1914 as the time when this prophecy underwent fulfillment. After describing this casting down of demonic forces, the record says: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Rev. 12:10, 12.
Like a cornered criminal, God’s adversary unleashes his fury in a last-ditch effort. He follows the policy of ‘rule or ruin.’ Even as do some human criminals, he is determined that, if he must perish, so shall all others. So he endeavors to contaminate and pollute not only the earth but especially all its inhabitants, thereby making them unacceptable to God, worthy of His destroying them.
Surely this could explain why the world of mankind has gone to such extremes in wrongdoing and has acted so insanely from the year 1914 onward.
Does that leave us with no way out of the pressures? No, the Book that pointed to this very time, and that shows the real causes of these unsurpassed pressures, also shows the only source of true and complete relief from all damaging stress and tension.
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If there is serious weakness in the cement, a building may collapse. A defect in mankind is one reason for the breakdown of so many governments and systems
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Hitler, who looked to occult practices for guidance, promoted the ghastly concentration camps