Is This the Way Out of the Confusion?
BEYOND question, there is confusion as to where mankind is headed. Millions also lack clear direction in their personal lives. What is the way out of the confusion? What prospect is there of a genuinely bright future?
‘We can always hope!’ some may say. ‘Man has always managed to get through crises in the past. Why not in our day?’ they ask.
Hope, of course, is good. But, if we face the facts, has not human history been a steady stream of shattered hopes? False hopes only lead to disillusionment. Only genuine hopes, solidly founded, can lead us to a worthwhile future.
So it is folly simply to hope blindly that ‘somehow things will work out.’ Action is needed. But that action must be in the right direction. Are men looking in the right direction for solutions?
Can National Governments Lead the Way?
Many people look to their national government to solve the major problems of life. They cry out: ‘Put our nation first!’ Their own nation’s well-being and security, they say, should be put ahead of any foreign interests. Often they want a strong government to restore ‘law and order’ and to crush social unrest.
But does concentration on one’s own nation first lead any country out of its difficulties? What about those who went that way in the past? All too often intensely nationalistic feelings have led to dictatorship. Consider Germany under Nazi rule. Germany came out of World War I in a destitute condition. But under dictator Hitler’s strong rule its recovery was rapid. Sweeping new laws revised the economic and social systems. Business prospered. Unemployment ended. But in it all, the average citizen lost his freedom.
This extreme nationalism was also very costly to the rest of the world. Millions of persons, including innocent civilians, died in the horrors of World War II. Nations were left in shambles, much of their wealth wasted. No, intense nationalism did not improve the world, not even Germany.
Has strong nationalism really improved matters in other countries? Has it solved the Soviet Union’s problems? Has it solved the problems of those lands recently made independent, such as in Africa? in the Soviet Union their economic and family problems, as well as the stifling of personal freedom, answer, No. In Africa vicious tribal warfare, poverty and a pattern of dictatorships answer, No.
Thus, many thinking people see that nationalism is really not the way out of man’s grave problems. They know from history that nations regularly rise and fall, and that no form of man-made government has ever really met the needs of all its people.
What About Man-made World Government?
Since the world’s problems have grown so large, many feel as British historian Arnold Toynbee, who said:
“Mankind’s strategic and hygienic problems are global and they are pressing; they cannot be solved by the governments of local states. They call for the establishment of a global authority endowed with overriding power.”
But is it realistic to expect that each nation will deliberately give up its sovereignty to such a world government? Have they ever? No, for the spirit of nationalism is too strong. That is why Toynbee warned: “Mankind’s survival demands political unity, yet mankind’s present mood is increasingly divisive.”
Even if the nations did submit and turn over their national interests to a world government by man, is it likely that they will get to the root of their problems? Does it seem logical that human leaders, who have failed to solve problems on a national scale, will do any better by combining, their efforts? Is a collection of individual failures any real basis for solving global problems?
But, then, ever so many people do not even worry about what can be done on a worldwide scale. Their prime concern lies much closer to home.
Pursuit of Selfish Interests
The great majority of people are far more concerned about their own selfish interests. They pursue a course that will get them the most material comforts and, so they hope, financial security.
But has this materialistic way of life, so eagerly pursued by so many people, lessened man’s problems? Look at some results.
There are now growing shortages of many of earth’s natural resources. Why? Because men have steadily stripped from the earth more and more of these resources to make the items demanded by consumers.
At the same time, this has spawned the “industrial society.” While it has brought some advantages, it has also caused millions of people to endure boring assembly-line jobs in noisy, crowded factories, with little prospect of ever doing otherwise. They often drive to and from work through eye- and throat-burning smog, along crowded roadways, many littered with refuse. Once scenic and restful beaches are now declared unsafe due to pollution.
Also, in their desire for material things, and in view of constantly rising prices, many men, and women, take on extra work to make more money. Yet families are crying out in neglect. Growing numbers of frustrated wives turn to alcohol. Children, not given proper attention, feel there is a ‘generation gap’ and so go their own way, often turning to drugs and immorality.
But drugs cripple and kill. Rampant alcoholism and epidemic venereal disease resulting from immorality take a fearful toll. The pace of life has become too fast for real enjoyment. Frustrations and tensions take an ever larger toll in mental disorders, heart disease and other ailments. And much of this has originated from the frenzied pursuit of material things.
Does World Religion Have the Answer?
Many persons today have what a Canadian professor called “a tremendous spiritual yearning for explanation.”
But fewer and fewer of them turn to the traditional religions in trying to fill this need. Why? Because they find the religions in disagreement, divided over major issues. Some clergymen even question the existence of God. Shifting standards as to what is right and wrong add to the feeling that the world has lost its bearings, is becoming like a rudderless ship.
For example, in 1971 many Catholic bishops in the United States called for an end to the war in Indochina, suggesting that it was an ‘immoral war.’ But earlier, church leaders said the opposite. Cardinal Spellman referred to U.S. troops in Vietnam as “soldiers of Christ” and said that fighting for anything “less than victory is inconceivable.” Major issues such as priestly celibacy and birth control remain unresolved arguments among Catholics, especially members of the clergy. Hence, many sincere Catholics remain confused, lacking confidence in Church leadership.
Protestant churches have been shaken by social issues in recent years. While some churches have accepted racial integration, others of the same denomination have not. Some churches support radical ‘leftist’ movements for social change; others of the same religion condemn them. The ordinary layman, caught in the crosscurrents, is confused, disgusted.
What has added to the bewilderment is that growing numbers of church leaders are condoning sexual relations outside marriage, and even adultery.
For instance, a Protestant chaplain at Vassar College said that ‘a full life can best be achieved when a man—and his wife, too—are free to engage in extramarital affairs [adultery], not secretly, but with each other’s knowledge and consent.’—Current Medical Reports, January 1970.
More and more clergymen are also condoning homosexuality. An article by San Francisco clergyman R. W. Cromey in The Living Church, a weekly Episcopal Church magazine, says: “There is no sex act which in itself is sinful. . . . I also believe that two people of the same sex can express love and deepen that love by sexual intercourse [homosexuality].”
Then, too, millions have turned to things such as astrology, Ouija boards, black-magic cults and even devil worship. Yet none of these have pointed the way for mankind to find true peace and security. They are, as a school administrator in Vancouver, British Columbia, says, just “another method of pulling a blind down on reality,”
Where Can You Turn with Confidence?
Is there anything one can turn to with confidence to guide his life correctly? Who can show us the right direction to guarantee our future happiness?
There is a proverb in the Bible that says: “Where there is no vision [or, “revelation”] the people go unrestrained.” (Prov. 29:18) This sound principle proves true in our day. With no clear vision of the future, no revelation to guide him, imperfect man’s blundering efforts have led to increasing troubles, bloodshed, immorality and heartache.
Yes, mankind certainly needs vision—to see which way it is headed and what is the right course to take. Mankind needs special guidance that it cannot give itself. From where must it come? It can come only from a source higher than man. It must come from mankind’s Creator, Jehovah God. Only he knows for certain just where this world is heading and what will lead to a world free from disheartening troubles.
This is why Jehovah’s witnesses believe that the answer to the question, “Where is this world heading?,” is to be found in the Bible and in its prophecies. In over two hundred lands of earth, millions of persons are now studying the Bible along with them. Among the things these people have heard and considered is the significance of a certain date in our time—1914. What has this date to do with our day and with your hope for the future?