Watching the World
Witnesses Assemble Internationally
◆ Between June 20 and July 1, the “Divine Victory” International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses convened in eight cities in the United States. In these locations the assembly drew a total attendance of 216,117 persons for the important talk “Divine Victory—Its Meaning for Distressed Humanity.” The assembly is scheduled to continue through August in the continental U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Thereafter, it will convene in various islands of the Pacific, in Africa, and in Middle and South America. At each assembly the keynote speaker has forcefully reminded his audience: “Genuine disciples of Jesus Christ have to face and endure the world’s hatred just the same as he did. So, for a disciple to remain such in a real sense, it means that he has to gain victory over the world.”
◆ Christendom’s missionaries once went to foreign lands to convert natives. Today the reverse occurs! Says C. W. Forman of Yale Divinity School: “I had a student who went to Thailand to work as a teacher with the Peace Corps. While he was there he decided to become a Buddhist monk.” The Cleveland Press reports: “One Christian theological school in India has introduced worship according to Hindu patterns. Some independent Christian churches in Africa are incorporating African ideas about sorcery and exorcism as well as polygamy and more emotionally expressive forms of worship.”
◆ Mario Shoenmaker, minister at Victoria Park Congregational Church in Perth, Western Australia, recently “married” two lesbians. The couple exchanged rings and vows. Schoenmaker says he received many approving calls after his action. Several other ministers interviewed by Western Australia’s Daily News were openly sympathetic to homosexuals. However, the newspaper notes: “A Jehovah’s Witnesses church member, Mr. Vin Davies, said his church would be against such a marriage, and denounced all unnatural practices.” Shoenmaker has also “married” male homosexuals.
◆ Marriage-mate swapping is often termed “swinging.” Is it only people who do not profess any religious belief that practice this? No. One survey shows that 85 percent of 280 “swingers” interviewed in the Chicago area were providing some kind of religious training for their children. One younger member of a New York ‘swinger club’ says: “The few couples I’ve [talked to] about it are socially very religious—I don’t know how much they believe but they’re paying their dues, having their kids confirmed or barmitzvahed or whatever.”
◆ Often one of man’s seeming “advances” brings as many problems as it solves. Consider what has happened with schistosomiasis or snail fever, a serious disease found where there are slow-moving waters. It is said to infect 200 million persons and to be on the rise. Why? “Development programs,” needed to increase the water supply to feed more people, also spread the disease. The Wall Street Journal claims: “Ironically, one of the greatest boons to Egypt over the last decade, the . . . Aswan Dam, has added to the schistosomiasis problem by increasing the acreage under irrigation.”
◆ The U.S. dollar was devalued twice in recent months. Americans have hoped thereby to sell more goods abroad. In this way they try to offset a $6.5 billion 1972 trade deficit. While sales are up, they do not always come easily. Why? Among other reasons, an Associated Press study says: “Many U.S. manufacturers would have to retool their products for Europe where screw threads, for example, are different. Most electrical equipment has to be for 220 volts rather than 110. Adaptation costs money. . . . U.S. goods, like clothing and furniture, are simply not being made in sizes that suit the Japanese.”
◆ The U.S. Skylab space station is the 584th man-made satellite of the earth still in orbit. The U.S. has put up 341 and the Soviet Union 204 of these. Several other nations have orbited less than ten each. Heaviest earth-orbit traffic is less than 600 miles above earth—weather, scientific and military satellites. Communications satellites work 22,300 miles out. About 70,000 miles away are those that monitor nuclear test-ban violations. Of course, hundreds of other satellites have long since crashed to earth or burned up, and other hundreds of various parts of satellites still orbit the earth.
Methaqualone Use Soars
◆ Some law officials now rank methaqualone as third drug of choice among American youth, behind marijuana and alcohol. It is officially a sleeping pill, and is sold over the counter by various trade names. It gives one a false sense of well-being. One college student says: “When you’re drinking you know you have no control over the [automobile] wheel, but when you’re on [methaqualone], you think you’re O.K. That is, until you plow into a pole.” U.S. government and other researchers warn that methaqualone “produces a severe physical dependence.”
Breaking the Tobacco Habit
◆ Dr. A. S. Norris of Southern Illinois University Medical School formerly was a tobacco smoker. After finding how difficult it was to give up the habit he made a study of the problems other persons had in quitting. The doctor says: “Most people do not realize the seriousness of the problem caused in trying to quit smoking. Cigarettes in their own way can be as addictive for many people as heroin. For heavy smokers cigarettes have become the way to solve problems. . . . A non-smoker would go for a walk, play badminton, plant flowers or bite his fingernails.” Smokers have, the doctor observes, “forgotten all the normal ways of dealing with tension.”
◆ Some persons who need a new cornea for an eye prefer to avoid donor transplants. One alternative to live transplants, a plastic one, has been developed by Dr. Hernando Cardona of Presbyterian Hospital’s Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute of New York. A similar technique has appeared in England. Such tiny plastic corneas are said to have restored sight to over 250 patients in recent years. Unlike natural transplants, the body does not seem to reject the artificial cornea. They are described as giving good depth of focus, though limited angle of vision. Glasses must be worn.
Current Space Phenomena
◆ A total solar eclipse occurred on June 30. It was visible primarily across a 4,600-mile swath of Central Africa for seven minutes and four seconds. An eclipse of longer duration (seven minutes and 15 seconds) is not scheduled to occur until the year 2150.
A newly discovered comet called Kohoutek is expected to swing within 13 million miles of the sun in late December. About mid-January, 1974, Kohoutek should be its closest to earth, some 75 million miles. Depending on several factors, the comet may become 20 percent as bright as a full moon viewed from earth.
Youth and Peace
◆ World statesmen talk of peace in the world. But American youths are not convinced of its nearness. Santa Fe’s New Mexican discussed the subject with twelve high-school and college students. Eight would classify peace as “an impossible dream.” Their definitions of what constitutes peace vary. A New Orleans youth observed: “As an American, I wouldn’t really know what peace means, because ever since I can remember, the United States has not been peaceful.”
◆ Farming may soon become the second most deadly occupation in America. National Safety Council figures show that in 1971, for every 100,000 persons employed in farming, 66 died in job accidents; the figure is 100 in mining and quarrying and 71 in construction. The farming statistic, however, unlike the other occupations, is increasing. The most common form of accident on farms, the Council also says, is falls. What is the best protection? Alertness!
◆ In recent years there has been discussion of so-called “blue-collar worker” discontent. Now, The Changing Success Ethic by the American Management Association indicates that job dissatisfaction “has not merely spread to, but may even thrive in, the managerial suites of American business.” Executives interviewed stressed the ‘quality of life’ rather than merely position or paycheck. E. E. Lawler III, a student of the subject, says: “Dissatisfying and meaningless jobs are without question a form of psychological and mental pollution.” He asserts: “They cause mental illness, alcoholism, shorter life expectancy.”
◆ The number of a country’s official holidays is somewhat of an indicator of its attitude toward leisure. This varies greatly from nation to nation. Uruguay leads the list with 21, none of which is religious. On the other hand, all but one of Israel’s 19 holidays are religious. Argentinians are about split; nine of 17 holidays come from Catholic feast days. The number of legal holidays observed in other countries are: Italy and Lebanon, 17; Thailand. 14; Canada and Japan, 12; Kenya and West Germany, 10; India and the United States, 9; Australia, Brazil and China, 8; Mexico and Russia, 6; Britain, 5.
◆ Australian News Summary reports that about twelve million tons of pollutants enter that continent’s atmosphere each year. This figure, based on a recent Melbourne University survey, equals almost a ton for every person in Australia.
◆ The United Store Workers Union in New York city reports that the amount of surgery done on its members has dropped 19 percent in one year. Why? All decisions to operate are now reviewed by a second doctor. Thus, 289 members were told by a doctor that they needed surgery; however, 51 were later advised by a second doctor that the operation was unnecessary.
◆ London, England, is faced with the dilemma of a rising crime rate and a shrinking police force. Crime went up 4 percent in that city last year. The police force at year-end was 4,589 below its authorized 26,049 men and women. This shortage exists despite an extensive public relations campaign to rouse new recruits to offset the number leaving the force.
Pools, Dangers Increase
◆ The National Swimming Pool Institute of Washington, D.C. represents the U.S. pool trade. It expects that the nation’s millionth in-ground home pool will be installed this summer. While these bring pleasures, they also present a hazard. Some 300 persons were drowned in home pools during each of the last two years.
Home and School
◆ A recently released 19-nation survey by the International Association for the Evaluation of International Achievement emphasizes that the home is more important than the school in a child’s education. This is particularly true in “reading comprehension.” The study, based on the work of over a quarter of a million students and 50,000 teachers, also indicates that “mass education” does not necessarily provide lower academic standards for bright students.
◆ Last year 60,275 persons were killed in transportation accidents in the U.S. This was a 2.4-percent increase from 1971 and the second-highest figure in the nation’s history. Highway crashes accounted for over 55,000 of the deaths.