Will Nonviolence Ever Be a World Reality?
“LIFE is just a matter of survival,” the woman said as the crowded train sped toward Bombay. She was observing the landscape marred by mile after mile of shantytowns that lay drenched in the unrelenting monsoon rains. “People have no values these days,” she continued. “No one cares about anyone but himself. Even traditional values have lost their impact.”
Her observation reflected the lives of millions who exist without any fixed system of ethical values. Rich or poor, they have rejected or discarded even inherited moral codes, finding them either ineffectual or too binding for modern life. They have replaced them with the law of self—self-survival and self-gratification.
Without any stabilizing values many people have become anguished or angry. In a violent world self-defence has become a common strategy. And since many believe that ‘attack is the best form of defence,’ violence breeds violence, both verbal and physical.
‘Times Full of Danger’
The Creator of all humankind foresaw such a time as this—a time when people would reject God-given values and thus flounder. The outcome is stated for us in wisdom expressed nearly two thousand years ago: “But you must realise that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centred, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and abusive, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, reverence and normal human affections. . . . They will maintain a façade of ‘religion’ but their life denies its truth.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5, The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips.
Can we not see the accuracy of this statement in our daily lives? Is not the world for many a very unkind place where people lack “normal human affections”? People are abused, physically and psychologically. Human dignity is abused on a massive scale. Even acts of normal human kindness are often so rare in these days of the self-centred philosophy that when someone does perform a kind, human act the individual is often considered a unique specimen!
Is there any way in which all of this could be changed? Is there any force, or power, that could uproot violence from mankind’s heart? Does there exist any powerful motivation for change?
Reeducating the Heart
It has been said that education should have as its goal the formation of character—and, we could add, the formation of values. In order for nonviolence to be more than just a cliché, or platitude, people all over the world have to be reeducated to love God and their neighbour in a real sense. This education must reach not only the analytical mind but, more importantly, the motivating heart.
But would you accept a code of values from just anyone? Obviously not. You would insist that the person be sound in his judgements and unimpeachable in his personal record. His values would have to survive the test of time and be applicable to the broad spectrum of humanity. People of all nationalities and backgrounds would have to be incorporated. Above all, their hearts would have to be reached.
Who can give us such direction in these dangerous and troublesome times? Who can provide us with a set of values that will help us to endure, that can make us live with hope instead of despair? Who can reach our hearts to plant in them peacefulness and kindness instead of violence and hate?
History has shown that this task is beyond the capabilities of any human. So let us consider briefly what the aged and respected man Moses wrote about our Creator, Jehovah God: “For I shall declare the name of Jehovah. Do you attribute greatness to our God! The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” Think of that—a just and perfect God who is also faithful.—Deuteronomy 32:3, 4.
King David of ancient times wrote: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.” (Psalm 19:7, 8) Yes, Jehovah’s laws and reminders can penetrate to the heart and change our thinking and thus our actions. Violent people can become peaceable and kind.
Who Are the Peaceable?
Nearly two thousand years ago mankind’s most loving teacher, Jesus Christ, said to a crowd on a mountainside: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth. . . . Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matthew 5:5-9) Does such a mild-tempered, peaceable people exist on earth today? Certainly warmongering Christendom cannot be recognized as such a people.
Yet in all parts of the world today there are people of all nationalities who have changed their previous violent outlook and have adopted a new set of God-given values. They have been reeducated. Their hearts have been touched, and they have willingly responded to the invitation: “‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah . . . and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ . . . And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” According to this prophecy, a nonviolent people would be formed “in the final part of the days.” Who are they?—Isaiah 2:2-4.
They are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and there are millions of them all over the world. You probably have them in your community. They are a peaceable people who go from house to house telling others about Jehovah’s righteous ways. They do not take up arms in any nation. They are not involved in politics and its violence. They are a truly peace-loving, God-fearing, nonviolent people. They advocate God’s Kingdom government by Christ as the solution for mankind’s ills. They know that God’s Kingdom will soon remove from the earth all violence and those who practice it. Their lives are a witness to the fact that nonviolence is not just an ideal but also a reality.—Daniel 2:44; Revelation 21:3, 4.
Jehovah’s Witnesses know that the Bible states that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) Therefore they respect the dignity of every man, woman and child, regardless of social background or skin colour. No class or caste system divides their brotherhood.
Do You Yearn for Justice?
What about you? Are you a silent victim of discrimination? Does your heart cry out over the injustices you see and feel? Do you yearn for justice and impartiality? Do you ‘sigh and groan because of the detestable things’ that are committed in the name of religion? Then be sure that God is aware of your needs.—Ezekiel 9:4.
Under divine inspiration the poet wrote in the Bible: “The desire of the meek ones you will certainly hear, O Jehovah. You will prepare their heart. You will pay attention with your ear.” Are you willing to have Jehovah prepare your heart now for a nonviolent new system of things that is soon to come? If so, we urge you to contact the publishers of this magazine or any of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will gladly help you to understand how God’s Kingdom will soon make nonviolence an earth-wide reality.—Psalm 10:17.
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Life Through the Eyes of an Untouchable
Rukhmani is 40 years old. She speaks Marathi. You will find her sitting by the crowded roadside in the corner of a Bombay bazaar selling vegetables.
“I am a Hindu by birth,” she explains. “We were Harijans [people of the god Vishnu], which is considered a lower class of people among the Hindus. As a little girl I used to wonder why I was not allowed to play with other girls of my age. My father told me that it was because our caste was lower than theirs. I felt very hurt, for even in school we Harijan children had to sit on a separate bench. Other students would neither look at us nor talk to us. We were not even allowed to enter Hindu temples or to draw water from wells belonging to upper-caste Hindus. We were Untouchables, and this brought misery to me and my family.
In order to have a better way of life Rukhmani and her family started following a Hindu reformist by the name of Dr. Ambedkar. In 1956 he urged the whole community of Harijans to convert to Buddhism. Even after her conversion Rukhmani was not happy. Why? She says: “Even though Hindus and Buddhists consider one another equals, it was really not so. We could not marry Hindus, as we were still considered lower.”
As time passed, Rukhmani abandoned her worship of Buddha and started worshiping the late Dr. Ambedkar. She was confused and saddened. “Now I had started worshiping a man. Each day I would buy a garland for his picture and pray before it.” But did this make Rukhmani happy? “No. In my heart I was not happy. There was no future for me. I sought the right direction for my life but couldn’t find any help.
“Then one day a neighbour came and offered us a booklet called Is There a God Who Cares? She explained that she belonged to a clean organization of people who worship the true God, Jehovah. I showed interest in this message and started to study the booklet along with the Bible. It changed my whole outlook. Soon I got rid of the images of Buddha and the picture of Dr. Ambedkar. I started to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the local Kingdom Hall. Imagine my feelings when I gave my first five-minute Bible presentation before an audience! Here I was, an Untouchable, giving my presentation in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses!”
What attracted Rukhmani to the Witnesses? “The love and unity among them,” she responds. “There is no caste distinction in this religion. This was so important to me, as for years I was a silent sufferer of that discrimination. With the Witnesses I am no longer an Untouchable—I’m a sister! Daily I rejoice in knowing this kind God, Jehovah.”
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Soon all violence, injustice and poverty will forever be things of the past