World Efforts Toward Better Times
THE recent past has been very stormy. But is it not true that a storm often precedes calm, pleasant times? What is true of the weather has sometimes been true in human affairs.
In Europe, for instance, the disturbed period of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era was followed by a long period of relative calm. The hard times of the great depression that began in the United States in 1929 and affected the entire world were followed by years of relatively prosperous times in many countries. World events often seem to work in cycles.
So, are the stormy events of our own recent history the prelude to a period of relative peace and security throughout the world? There is evidence that dramatic efforts will be made in this direction by the nations of earth. The time will come—and the indications are that it will come soon—when world leaders will confidently assure mankind that it is entering into ‘the best of times,’ that major obstacles to a truly better life for all people have finally been removed. Even Bible prophecy points to such a worldly pronouncement of “peace and security.”
The question is, however, will such efforts introduce a whole new era of better times that are genuine and enduring? Or is there another, finer source to which to look? Where does the Bible direct us to look?
Will the System Change?
For there to be genuinely better times, world leaders will have to bring about a drastic reversal in all fields of human endeavor. They will have to change the way that the entire system of things is going. More than that, they will have to bring about fundamental changes in the very disposition of people. Do you think all this is likely?
Among major efforts under way to bring in a new era is that of greater cooperation between the world’s “superpowers.” While visiting West Germany, Soviet Communist party leader Leonid Brezhnev said of improved Soviet-American relations:
“On the whole, one can perhaps say that our planet today is closer to durable, lasting peace than ever before. And the Soviet Union is shifting all its weight to buttress this beneficial tendency.”
There can be no doubt that diplomatic maneuverings of major importance are going on today at a pace and with an intensity seldom before seen—particularly in peacetime. Many observers would agree with Spartak Beglov of the Soviet press agency Novosti that “a new political climate is in creation” world wide. They foresee tremendous benefits if true cooperation can be achieved among the world’s great powers, China included.
Hopes, too, are expressed that the world’s economic system will stabilize, that the recent crises will jolt the nations into bringing about long-needed changes or adjustments, that new energy sources—solar energy converters, for instance—will be developed or old sources will be used more efficiently, and that, as a result, a new wave of prosperity and abundance will again appear.
Yes, you can be sure that 1974 will see mighty efforts made to try to inject new life into the world’s systems. And things may indeed appear to be ‘on the upswing’ again. But can you confidently put your trust in these developments to bring lasting results?
Optimism is certainly better than pessimism. Even more vital, however, is realism, because without it optimism becomes just wishful thinking that leads to disillusionment. How realistic, then, are the world’s efforts to create a new era of lasting peace and security?
Facing the Facts as They Are
Many, many peace treaties and agreements have been signed by nations in the past, being hailed at the time as giving promise of ‘lasting peace.’ But each brief period of calm was later shattered by wars that became successively more costly and hideous. No matter how solemn and sincere, peace pacts among nations have never produced genuine, lasting peace and security. Selfish interests have always acted like a corroding acid that eventually dissolves the bonds of union and cooperation. Would you say that the nations are less selfish today than in the past?
Ask yourself also: If the nations and leaders in various fields are really capable of bringing about the vast changes needed for genuinely better times, why has this not been done already? Or why, at least, have we not seen some steady, gradual improvement? Surely it is not because insufficient time, effort and money have been spent in an attempt to do so. Yet what do we see?
As time passes, the problems, world problems, are multiplying instead of lessening. More and more authorities express the belief that these problems—growing shortages of basic commodities, an “exploding” world population, the moral breakdown, pollution—are actually getting out of hand. Thus, an article published by the Indiana Pharos-Tribune & Press said:
“One fundamental meaning of the incredible year 1973 is that, across nearly every front of human endeavor, this nation and the world are having it driven home that their problems are approaching the peril point.
“A key word that lies at the root of this phenomenon is a jaw-crusher: magnification. You name the problem. If it once seemed manageable, or at least bearable, it seems today to be soaring to proportions that threaten to take it beyond our mastery. . . .
“The world’s growth in numbers and complexity has magnified the trouble until the danger is sinking into everybody’s bones.”
The problem goes far deeper than what most persons imagine. It really reaches down to the foundations of human society. For the principal source of worsening world conditions must, after all, be found in people, in their way of life, the standards—or lack of them—by which they live and which guide them in their dealings with one another. Pointing in this direction, in his book Future Shock, author Alvin Toffler stated:
“What is occurring now is not a crisis of capitalism but of industrial society itself, regardless of its political form.
“We are simultaneously experiencing a youth revolution, a sexual revolution, a racial revolution, a colonial revolution, an economic revolution, and the most rapid and deep-going technological revolution in history.
“We are living through the general crisis of industrialism. In a word, we are in the midst of the super-industrial revolution.”
Problems Global Now
What is happening in our generation is very different from what has happened in any other time. In the past, the problems in one land or area were contained there. It took years, generations, even centuries for the effects of most things to reach other areas.
But that is not the case now. Today the world is closely knit, tightly interwoven through rapid communications, air travel, economic and political interchange. Thus, a drastic change in one area is quickly felt in another. That is why the entire world suffered from the effects of World War I, the great depression, World War II, the Vietnam war, and now the energy crisis.
Authorities admit that the global problems of this system seem certain to grow bigger. One reason why is the relentless population growth, especially in lands that can least afford it. According to the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C., the world population at the end of 1973 stood at 3,900,000,000. And it is increasing at a 2-percent rate each year. That means that during 1974 the world will experience a net increase of some 78 million people!
Thus, the problems multiply in speed and scope. It is no wonder that more and more people are becoming “emotionally disturbed.” Mounting pressures in all directions render growing numbers of people incapable of handling them. That is why mental institutions are crowded, why so many are behaving in an unbalanced way, even going berserk and committing mass murder. What is now happening on a large scale can be compared to what happens in battle when, because of too much pressure, soldiers become ‘shell-shocked.’
We must therefore conclude that all the grave social, moral and economic problems of this world will not go away by the mere signing of agreements for peace and international cooperation. Signatures on pieces of paper, however well intentioned, will not eliminate greed, violence, immorality or family breakdown. They will have no effect on drug abuse, venereal disease, sickness and death. They will not make people in your neighborhood kinder, more loving toward others, will they?
If we are looking to the present systems to bring genuinely better times, we are looking to the wrong source. Why so? Because it is evident that any ‘new era of peace and security’ that world leaders succeed in introducing will be founded, not on true devotion to righteousness or on genuine love of people world wide, but on fear of global suicide from nuclear warfare or the danger of economic collapse. That is not the foundation for enduring better times. Efforts by the world leaders at correcting the problems of mankind give no more promise of lasting improvement than would someone’s rearranging the furniture and redecorating a house that has a crumbling, termite-ridden foundation.
The Bible foretells that the cry of “peace and security” can be expected in our generation on a worldwide scale, causing many, the majority, to renew their faith in the present world systems. But it shows that that cry will actually be fraudulent, and that such “new era” will be only a veneer, a whitewash covering over a system that is shot through with corruption and greed and that can never work to the lasting good of all mankind.
What It Really Means
Bible prophecy shows that such coming pronouncement of a new era of peaceful security will mean for the nations something very different from what they anticipate. Instead of setting in motion a new era of better times, it will, prove to be the immediate forerunner of the end of the entire corrupt system of things now dominating the earth. Any sense of security and tranquillity world leaders succeed in generating will be shattered with shocking suddenness.
Is that really what God’s Word, the Bible, says? Yes, and in so many words God’s prophetic Word declares:
“Jehovah’s day [of destruction for this present corrupt system] is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!” then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.”—1 Thess. 5:2, 3.
God’s purpose is to bring this system to an end, not to try to reform it. Why not? Because it is beyond reforming. It was built on a wrong foundation to begin with and now its defects are becoming clearly evident. That is the real meaning of world conditions since this present turbulent age began in 1914. That crucial date in world history ushered in what the Bible calls “the last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1) It marked the generation that would see the end of this distressing system of things.
Thus, you can see why the nations and their supporters will be so disappointed by the sudden turn of events coming soon. After seemingly patching up this divided system of things and proclaiming that they have achieved “peace and security,” they will find that this is actually the signal for its death stroke. Coming so unexpectedly to those who ignore God’s purposes, it will indeed be “as a thief in the night.”
That collapse will result in the worst time of trouble the world has ever seen. Jesus foretold that it would be a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matt. 24:21.
Source of Truly Better Times
Why, then, can we say that genuinely better times are just ahead? How can we retain this optimistic hope with the knowledge that “sudden destruction is to be instantly upon” the nations after they make their “peace and security” proclamation?
With this system nearing its end, it obviously cannot be the source of truly better times. Then how will they come? Since God is the One who executes his judgments against this present system of things, is he to be the source of an entirely new order? The Bible answers, Yes.
Only man’s Maker can usher in a totally new era that will fulfill the proper needs and wants of honest-hearted persons. The creation of such a new system is utterly beyond mankind now. As the Bible writer Jeremiah said: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. Correct me, O Jehovah.” (Jer. 10:23, 24) Jeremiah well knew that, not man, but God is the One who will bring about better times.
That is what God has promised, indeed, guaranteed. His Word tells us about that righteous new order in which he promises to ‘satisfy the desire of every living thing.’ (Ps. 145:16) But just how will he do this? What has he really promised? Why has he waited so long to bring it about? What do we have to do to benefit?
[Box on page 5]
‘Problems at Peril Point’
“Problems are approaching the peril point. . . . You name the problem. If it once seemed manageable, or at least bearable, it seems today to be soaring to proportions that threaten to take it beyond our mastery.”—Indiana “Pharos-Tribune & Press.”
[Picture on page 7]
WORLD POPULATION NOW INCREASING BY 78,000,000 A YEAR
World Population Now Is 3,900,000,000
[Picture on page 8]
The coming worldwide cry of “peace and security” will be a fraud, for the proclaimed “new era” will be only a whitewash covering over this system’s basic decay and corruption