Can Men Bring Lasting Peace and Security?
1. Why is it important that our hope for peace and security be based on reality and truth?
GENUINE hope is founded on reality and truth. False hopes only blind people to the true hope, deceiving them. In a time of crisis such as we now face, false hopes would even rob a person of his life.
2, 3. (a) What questions would it be beneficial to ask ourselves as to the problems involved in bringing peace and security? (b) What further question faces those who claim to have faith in God?
2 Therefore, we need to ask ourselves: Do we clearly appreciate just how big the problems are that must be solved to bring genuine peace and security? Do we realize how urgent the situation has become? What evidence do we actually have that men’s solutions would be equal to the immensity of the task?
3 Also, we face the question of whether we can put our trust in world leaders and in God at the same time. Some believe that they can. They believe that current human efforts toward bringing lasting peace have God’s backing. But do they? Since so much lies in the balance, we do well to examine the facts.
URGENCY AND FEAR MOVE MEN TO ACTION
4-6. To what realization have world leaders come as to the seriousness of the problems facing mankind?
4 For thousands of years men have sought lasting peace and security, without success. But now there is a new circumstance that many believe will cause men to come to grips with the problems and to succeed. What is this new circumstance?
5 It is that, for the first time, world leaders are acknowledging that they must decide between world peace and world suicide. They agree that an all-out nuclear war would be so deadly that there could be no winners, only losers. Not only this, but many, especially scientists, say that there is even greater danger from worldwide pollution, and also from the “population explosion,” with the widespread famine, disease and unrest that this threatens to bring. They say that time is running out for global action by all nations if worldwide disaster is to be avoided. As a report from Washington, D.C., states:
“Suddenly in any number of disparate countries—the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, India, Japan—influential men have sensed an impending danger unlike any in human experience. Futurologists call it the crisis of crises, the culmination of man’s timeless errors.”—Washington Post.2
6 These men recognize that, even though mankind might survive these crises one at a time, they could not survive if all, or even several of them, hit at once. The question is, however, Will fear of disaster really turn mankind away from disunity and strife to a course bringing true peace and security?
A WARLESS WORLD BY MEN’S EFFORTS?
7-11. (a) As to man’s ability to put an end to war, what does history show? (b) Is fear of atomic warfare a sound foundation for peace? (c) Does the signing of disarmament pacts or peace treaties guarantee lasting peace?
7 What real reason does any of us have to believe that men can bring a complete end to war? What does history show?
8 True, there have been a few scattered years when this planet Earth was free from war. But very few. Military analyst Hanson W. Baldwin calculated that in some 3,457 years of recorded history, there have been more than 3,230 years of war and only 227 years of peace.3
9 But will not the mutual fear of atomic warfare change this? Remember, men learned to fear nuclear weapons over a quarter of a century ago, when atomic bombs wiped out two Japanese cities. But what has their fear moved them to do since then? Actually, it has led them to stockpile more and more such weapons and even to keep inventing others of vastly greater destructive power.
10 Do you not agree that, instead of ensuring true peace, fear produced by threat of attack in reality creates suspicion and tension? If you keep peace with your neighbor only because you know he is armed and threatens to use his weapons, is this real peace? Can you ever feel secure while that neighbor lives alongside you? Actually, such fear can easily lead to hasty, thoughtless, violent acts. Surely the “balance of terror” that world leaders have built up is no foundation for genuine peace.
11 Granted, the nations may sign disarmament pacts or peace treaties. But over the centuries literally thousands of these have been signed. Yet, whenever war sentiment became strong enough, those treaties proved worthless, mere scraps of paper. Is it realistic to think that world leaders today will keep their word if selfish nationalistic interests seem to dictate otherwise? More importantly, will you risk your hope of life in peace and security on their promise to keep peace?
12, 13. (a) How has what the Bible foretold about man’s failure to achieve lasting peace been consistent with what has occurred? (b) What does the Bible identify as the real source of war?
12 What, then, about the Bible? Does it urge us to put our hope and confidence in human efforts to bring peace, in the face of all the evidence showing man’s inability to achieve it? To the contrary, it foretold long ago that, by themselves, men would never bring lasting peace. It forewarned that, even during the period just before God’s kingdom would clean out of the earth all who do not have true love for righteousness, there would be “wars and disorders,” with ‘nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom’ in global warfare. (Luke 21:9, 10, 31; Revelation 6:1-4) The greatest, most destructive slaughter in human history has taken place in our generation in two world wars. And since the end of World War II there have been over three hundred wars or violent uprisings, an average of about one a month! What the Bible foretold is consistent with what has actually occurred. It gave us no false hope.
13 The Bible also identifies the real source of the problem. It shows that war is not caused by bullets or bombs or battleships but by people, by human selfishness. (James 4:1-3) If men are to achieve lasting peace, they must first bring about a worldwide change in people. But on the basis of man’s record over the centuries, would you say that such a thing is likely? What about the record of this generation? Does it indicate that such a change is impending—that people everywhere are abandoning their selfishness, their divisive nationalism, their racial hatred, their commercial greed? Certainly not! And the Bible truthfully states that, when men seek peace only so that they can continue their pursuit of selfishness, they will never succeed.—Isaiah 57:19-21; 59:7, 8.
CAN MEN KEEP THE “HUMAN BOMB” FROM EXPLODING?
14-17. (a) How rapidly is the earth’s population increasing, and what does this mean as to the problem of providing food? (b) As to whether scientists have the needed solution, what do they themselves say?
14 Earth’s population reached one billion (one thousand million) persons for the first time early in the nineteenth century. By 1930 it grew to two billion. There are now over 3.6 billion persons on earth, and estimates are that the figure will pass six billion in the next thirty years! What does this mean?
15 It means that every day there are some 200,000 more mouths to be fed. And most of these are in areas where poverty, hunger and disease already affect millions. As food science professor Georg Borgstrom, of Michigan State University, said:
“Anyone who thinks that the current world protein crisis is going to blow over and take care of itself should remember: the hungry of the world are multiplying twice as fast as the well fed.”4
16 But have not agricultural scientists developed new high-yield strains of rice, wheat and corn in what has been hailed as a “green revolution”? Yes, but will this answer the world’s hunger problem? More and more food experts now say, No. Many warn that the new varieties of grains may even contribute to famine. How? A 1971 Associated Press dispatch reported:
“The new hybrids are not as blight-resistant as the older types. There is the possibility that a country’s entire crop—perhaps a world crop—would be wiped out by a new plant disease. It almost happened last year with the corn crop in the United States.”5
17 It is, in fact, the scientists themselves who most frequently warn that they do not have the solution. As one prominent biologist expressed it:
“Some feel that the battle to feed the world population is now lost, and that it is a foregone conclusion that by 1985 we will have world-wide famines in which hundreds of millions of people will starve to death. I must admit that at this time I see no major crash program which would lead me to disagree with this conclusion.”6
18-21. (a) What did the Bible foretell about this situation? (b) Would cutting back the amount of military spending solve the problem? (c) Why has such a serious situation developed?
18 With all its agricultural science, modern society has not been able to avoid the very conditions of which the Bible forewarned. It accurately foretold the arrival of severe food shortages on a worldwide scale during the “conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:3, 7; Revelation 6:5-8.
19 Much of the problem lies, not with agricultural methods primarily, but with people and their attitudes that go contrary to Bible principles. For decades now, the nations have spent vast sums on armaments while millions earth wide face starvation. According to a United Nations report, in recent years the nations have been spending $200 billion a year on their armed forces. That is more than the total annual income of a third of the earth’s population!
20 Even if the enormous military buildup were abandoned, the world’s divided economic system works against any true relief for the problem. Even when food is available, desire for big profits often prevents its distribution to those in need. In some lands, governments pay farmers not to produce certain crops and, rather than let high production bring a decrease in price, crops are even destroyed.
21 How different all this is from the principles set forth in the Bible encouraging a loving attitude toward those in need. (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) Men have built up their economic systems on selfishness and, rather than bringing peace and security, a situation that threatens disastrous consequences has now developed. Sooner or later men ‘reap what they sow,’ even as the Bible points out.—Galatians 6:7.
CAN MEN MAKE PEACE WITH THE EARTH?
22-25. (a) How serious is the problem of pollution? (b) Though some persons look to human science to provide the solution, what do the scientists say?
22 For scores of years now, men have been making war with the very earth on which they live. How? By worldwide pollution. Pollution is poisonous waste that man has caused and that has backed up into his water supply, into the air he breathes and the food he eats, until he cannot push it away. Thus man has endangered the most basic elements he needs for life.
23 Those trusting in men to bring peace and security say that man will find a way to survive this crisis as he has survived past crises. They believe that human science will provide the solution.
24 But, once more, the ones expressing the gravest doubts today are the scientists themselves. Note the following:
“Dr. William D. McElroy, outgoing director of the National Science Foundation, said recently that a natural reaction to the threat posed by pollution is that man has survived other dangers before and can do it again. This, unfortunately, ‘is not at all in accord with the facts. The simple truth today is that man’s survival in an acceptable society is by no means assured . . . Self-destruction by environmental degradation is a real possibility.’”—Atlanta Journal.7
25 Men can invent and mass-produce machines, creating an industrialized society. But in using the machines, they are ruining their own environment. As Dr. René Dubos, a pollution authority, says:
“In my opinion, there is no chance of solving the problem of pollution—or the other threats to human life—if we accept the idea that technology is to rule our future.”8
26-28. (a) Did the Bible foretell that such a critical situation would develop in regard to the earth? (b) What really is the source of the pollution problem? (c) In coping with the problems of pollution, what vital knowledge do human scientists lack, but who has it?
26 Again, the Bible foretold man’s lack of wisdom in his use of earth’s bounties. The prophecy at Revelation 11:18 foretold the time when God would have to take action “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”
27 And, once more, it becomes evident that the Bible reliably focuses on the true source of mankind’s pollution problems. Is it industry and machines? Not primarily. Primarily it is people who cause pollution. They pollute because of selfish desire or ignorance or both. They have built up the present economic systems to fulfill their desires, but now they find these systems taking away the very things they need in order to enjoy life.
28 True, there is much said today about ecology and research into earth’s environment. But scientists still do not understand fully how earth’s “ecosystems” (the biological relationships on which life depends) work. Time magazine says of these ecosystems:
“Even the simplest is so complex that the largest computer cannot fully unravel it.”9
Men admittedly do not understand the complex ecology of earth. But God does, because he created it. Is it not wise and practical to look to the Creator of these things to provide the solution to the problems?
SECURITY BY THE REMOVAL OF CRIME
29-31. (a) How widespread is the problem of crime? (b) Why would not the passing of new laws eliminate crime? (c) What indicates that material prosperity would not solve the problem?
29 Though pollution endangers the very essentials for human existence, it is the increase of crime that causes the greater number of people to be in fear. Crime steadily is robbing more and more persons of their personal security, not only in big cities, but in small towns and rural areas. Not just possessions but often one’s own body is in jeopardy. Can men bring you true security from these dangers?
30 Can they do it by new legislation? There are already hundreds, even thousands, of laws on the lawbooks of the world. Yet, these have not stopped the rise in crime. Also, deep-rooted corruption often develops right within the law-enforcement bodies themselves. Dishonesty in high places may nullify the efforts of law-enforcement officers who are honest. And the fact remains that righteousness cannot be injected into people’s hearts by laws.
31 Does the answer lie in new methods of detecting and thwarting crime? For every new method produced, criminals devise new ways to overcome it. Then, will increased prosperity in a man-made “era of peace” solve the problem? It would certainly be a mistake to conclude that crime is characteristic only of lower-income groups. For example, note this report:
“The number of crimes committed by business and professional men in Australia had risen to a startling degree in the past two or three years.”—The Australian.10
Also, the New York Times reports that theft in the Wall Street financial district is like a “free-for-all,” adding: “Everybody is stealing—the messengers, the clerks, even the supervisory personnel.”11 The facts show that the highest crime rates are found in the wealthier industrial nations. And not to be overlooked is the rising tide of drug addiction.
32. Has what the Bible foretold about this situation been fulfilled?
32 What is happening is as Bible-prophecies long ago foretold: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, . . . without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, . . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) Particularly noteworthy is that these conditions were prophesied to exist among persons claiming to have faith in God, but proving false to their claim. (2Ti 3 Verse 5) And do we not find that today the nations of Christendom are those hardest hit by crime and similar social ills? Jesus also foretold an “increasing of lawlessness” for the period just before God’s kingdom would destroy the wicked to make the earth a place to be ‘inherited by mild-tempered persons.’ That “increasing of lawlessness” is a fact of life in our day.—Matthew 24:12; 5:5.
THE GREATEST PROBLEMS OF ALL
33-38. (a) Even if men could solve all the problems discussed thus far, what greater enemies of peace and security would still remain? (b) What prospects do medical researchers see for conquering the major diseases that afflict mankind?
33 Suppose men could solve the problems of war, poverty, hunger, pollution, crime and drug addiction. Would this bring you full peace and security? No, something would still be lacking. Sickness and death would still remain as unconquered enemies of your security. Indeed, what would peace from all other problems mean or matter if one had to watch a loved member of his family sicken and die, or find his own body attacked by a fatal illness?
34 Impressive medical advances have been made in recent times. But what real security does this bring us? What do medical authorities themselves recognize?
35 A report in the Wall Street Journal,’12 under the headline “Science Loses Ground in War Against Disease in Impoverished Lands,” shows that three diseases (malaria, trachoma, schistosomiasis) now afflict 800 million people in such nations. And medical reports indicate that the number affected is growing steadily. So almost one fourth of the world’s population is plagued by just three of many diseases.
36 What of the more wealthy nations? Here heart disease is the number one killer. At a recent Conference on Hunger and Malnutrition, heart disease was called an “epidemic.” In Canada it afflicts one out of four adults. In the United States over 50 percent of the deaths each year are from heart disease, with many younger men now among the victims. Yet, according to a report in the New York Times, “Dr. Moses, the American Heart Association official, said that physicians recognize that they cannot ‘stamp out’ heart disease.”13
37 The number of victims from the dreaded disease of cancer also keeps growing. What hope of relief? Columbia University Professor of Surgeons Harry Grundfest states: “There are only vague clues as yet as to the nature of the cancer problem—let alone its solution.”14
38 Even the most enthusiastic men in medical science admit that in our lifetime it is unlikely that cures will be found for heart disease, cancer, malaria and the other most deadly diseases. Even if they did, they realize that this would still do little to lengthen the average life-span of most persons. People would still get old and die. So, then, what real hope of security from disease, aging and death can men offer?
39. Where can we learn the reason why human life is so short and filled with problems?
39 Though written thousands of years ago, how true the words in the Bible at Job 14:1, 2 continue to be today: “Man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation. Like a blossom he has come forth and is cut off, and he runs away like the shadow and does not keep existing.” The Bible also shows the reason for this, and it identifies the primary, unseen cause of all man’s problems, as we shall see later.
IN WHAT WILL YOU HOPE?
40, 41. Which do you believe—that it is more realistic to look to men to solve the problems facing mankind, or that only God can do this? Why?
40 In all honesty, then, is it realistic to trust in world leaders or other men to solve the problems facing mankind? Or is it more realistic to put trust in the solution to which the Bible points, namely, action by God himself through a righteous heavenly government? Long ago the inspired psalmist wrote these words:
“Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish. Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, of the sea, and of all that is in them.”—Psalm 146:3-6 [145:2-6, Dy].
41 Never forget that, no matter how sincere men may be or how influential and powerful they may be as world leaders, they are all dying creatures. Unable to save themselves, how can they save others?