People—What Happened to Them
SOME amusement parks have mirrors that are curved and thus distort the images that they reflect. People stand in front of them and laugh at what they see—their heads seem long, their bodies short and squat, their legs three times as long as they really are. Move closer to the mirror or farther away and the distortions change, but never does the image reflect the true bodily proportions. We would weep in despair if these horrible distortions were true reflections of ourselves. But it is all in fun and we stand there posturing and laughing at the ludicrous images we see in the mirror. All of our bodily parts are there, but so distorted!
There is another image of ourselves that is not properly proportioned, but this one is real and no laughing matter. It is the image of our innermost selves, of what we are inside, “the secret person of the heart.” (1 Pet. 3:4) This image should show the attributes of Jehovah God, in whose likeness man was originally created. We still have his attributes, but they have gotten out of their proper proportions, like the reflections of our physical image in the curved mirror.
Jehovah God created the first human pair with his attributes or with the capacity for developing them. They needed the qualities of justice and love, knowledge and wisdom, and the power to work with purposes and goals in view. They were assigned work that would give their lives purpose and meaning, and they were created with the abilities to perform the work. (Gen. 1:28; 2:15, 18) They also possessed free will, so they could choose their own course.—Josh. 24:15.
Adam and Eve were created upright and were told of the course that would mean life, but they ‘sought out another plan, acted ruinously on their own, and became defective.’ Eccl. 7:29; Deut. 32:5) They misused their freedom of choice. Eve, in a selfish grab for knowledge, unwisely disobeyed God. This disobedience showed a lack of love for the One who had given her life. “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) Adam set aside his love for God to side with Eve in her rebellion. No longer were the divine attributes they had received in proper balance, but they were now incomplete, imperfect. And, true to God’s warning, they were sentenced to death, and they passed on to their offspring imperfection and death.—Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12.
However, down to this day their descendants still have these divine attributes to a degree. For example, the desire for knowledge. Even a small child is hungry to know. As soon as he can talk his mind pours out streams of questions. He wants answers, craves food for thought. The endless outpouring amazes adults, sometimes baffles and exasperates them, and finally exhausts them. But the barrage is to satisfy a natural curiosity and hunger for knowledge. Why this? Why that? Why, why, why? Finally the besieged parent may cry out in desperation, “Go ask your mother!” or, “Go ask your father!” But this curiosity should not be discouraged in the young or be lost by the old. It is to satisfy our innate need to know.
“A man of knowledge is reinforcing power.” (Prov. 24:5) Knowledge has accumulated until today man has the power to fly higher and faster than any bird, travel faster on land than any animal and surpass fish in the water. He can see and hear what is happening on the other side of the earth. He has gone to the moon and back. We are fascinated by power, we watch enthralled as a crane swings a steel ball into the side of an old brick building and brings it crashing to the ground. A charging rhino, an elephant stampeding through the jungle, a flash of lightning, a crack of thunder, a raging storm on the sea—we are awed by such power!
We have a sense of justice. Even children are sensitive to injustice and become very upset when they think that they have not been treated fairly. Adults also become righteously indignant when suffering injustice. In stories we want justice to triumph. We want the hero to win and the villain to get his just deserts. It is only justice for us to reap what we sow. It is justice and fairness that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Gal. 6:7; Matt. 7:12) Even those without God’s law have by nature a sense of right and wrong, and a conscience that accuses or excuses. We have guilt feelings when doing wrong, just as did Adam and Eve, who hid when they were guilty.—Gen. 3:8-10.
Many desire wisdom and seek it through study and meditation. It is not programmed into them, as it is in many other earthly creatures. Some animals possess a wisdom that amazes humans. By instinct they migrate, hibernate, aestivate, build and engage in other activities that reflect wisdom. As the Bible says, “They are instinctively wise.” (Prov. 30:24) However, mankind has the capacity for gaining knowledge and using it in a wise way. By meditation he acquires insight and understanding. Man alone, of all earthly creatures, possesses this flexible wisdom.
Jehovah is a God of purpose, and man needs to have purpose in his life. He is distressed if he has no purpose, if his life has no meaning. To accomplish a purpose man must work. Work makes man feel useful. God made man to work, gave him work to do, putting him “in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it.” Jehovah’s gift is that man should “see good for all his hard work.” (Gen. 2:15; Eccl. 3:13) Work reflects the worker; it testifies to the worker’s worth. It is satisfying to see work well done, finished, the purpose accomplished. Jehovah pronounced his creative work very good and was refreshed by its accomplishment.—Gen. 1:31; Ex. 31:17.
Above all, people need love. They need to love and be loved. Without it we shrivel up inside. Babies well cared for physically will be stunted and sometimes even die if unloved. Adults deprived of love feel lonely and their spirit becomes depressed and despondent. “The spirit of a man can put up with his malady; but as for a stricken spirit, who can bear it?” (Prov. 18:14) Love bears all things and endures all things; without it much of life becomes unbearable and unendurable. (1 Cor. 13:7) We hear of many shortages in these troubled times, but the greatest shortage on earth is that of love. Psychiatrists say it’s behind most mental illnesses today.
And this brings us to the next step in our quest for an answer to the question, What makes people tick? When the needs with which man was created go unfulfilled, there’s trouble ahead. An automobile is designed with certain needs. If they are not fulfilled, the car will not run. If they are fulfilled poorly, the car may run, but poorly. So it is with people. The first pair was created with certain qualities that needed to be satisfied, and these same attributes are possessed by people today. When these needs are not met, or only partially so, the incredible human machine does not function properly. It sometimes runs amok and does incredibly inhuman things.
Warped personalities manifest human qualities in twisted and distorted ways, as the curved mirrors reflect physical bodies in grotesque ways. The divine attributes of justice, love, wisdom, power and others are still with us, but in our imperfection they no longer balance one another in their operation. With regard to these qualities, people have become unbalanced.
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Even those without God’s law have by nature a sense of right and wrong