The Cry for Reform
BY AWAKE! WRITER IN GERMANY
“If I were younger, I would start a reform movement!” exclaimed Anna, an 80-year-old woman in Germany. “What would you change?” asked Robert. “Everything!” replied Anna.
MANY would agree with Anna. A poll carried out in Germany in the mid-1990’s revealed that 2 out of every 3 people surveyed felt that ‘far-reaching reforms and important social changes’ were necessary. Perhaps the situation is similar in the country where you live.
When the public clamors for change, it is usually promised reform. Regarding education reform, Frederick Hess, an assistant professor of education and government, wrote: “Reform is largely a symbolic effort to reassure impatient communities.” We read newspaper headlines announcing plans for fiscal reform, health-care reform, agricultural reform, and law reform. We hear about proposed reforms of the education, welfare, and penal systems.* We also read that the members of some churches are pushing for doctrinal reform.
Reform Versus the Status Quo
What is behind such demand for change? Man constantly tries to improve the world around him. He has attempted to do that by the use of the ballot, by the expenditure of money, by legislation, or by raw force. This is a result of man’s deep-seated desire to improve his lot in life, to secure a better future for his children, or to bring society up to par with his idealistic concepts of welfare, morality, and justice. As long as there are people struggling to escape the ravages of ignorance, disease, poverty, and hunger, there will be a cry for reform.
While many welcome reform, others think differently about reformers and what they try to achieve. Some prefer to keep society as it is, to preserve the status quo. They regard reformers as idealists who want to change the world but have lost touch with reality. The Handbuch der deutschen Reformbewegungen 1880-1933 (Handbook of German Reform Movements 1880-1933) notes that reformers are “an easy target for criticism, political cartoons, caricatures and irony.” The French playwright Molière once stated: “Of all follies there is none greater than wanting to make the world a better place.”
What do you think? Can reform improve the world? Or are reformers just romantic visionaries? What about reforms introduced in the past? Have those responsible for them achieved their goals? The following articles will discuss these issues.
True to its stated purpose, Awake! “always stays politically neutral.” This discussion on reform is intended to inform our readers and point to the only real answer to man’s needs.