Insight on the News
Loss of Respect
● “Those who knew Hastings Kamuzu Banda, now president of the African country of Malawi, when he was a student at Wilberforce Academy in the 1920s say they’ve lost their long-held respect for him,” wrote Bette Owens in the Dayton, Ohio, “Daily News.” Among such distressed persons is Miss Flora Isabel Askew, who taught Banda at Wilberforce. She is quoted as saying: “I heard he’s committing atrocities against Jehovah’s Witnesses and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness, how could he have deteriorated into something like that?’”
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi have experienced brutal persecution because they maintain Christian neutrality and therefore refuse to buy a political card that indicates membership in the Malawi Congress Party. (John 17:16; 18:36; Jas. 1:27) Yet, they show proper respect for governmental “superior authorities.”—Rom. 13:1-7.
Political position alone does not assure widespread respect for a man of authority. Rather, he wins respect and a good name by fine words and deeds. Fittingly, the Bible says: “A [good] name is better than good oil.” (Eccl. 7:1) So, should not sound judgment prompt Dr. Banda to use his authority to halt atrocities against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi and thus regain a measure of the respect people once had for him?
● An eighteen-year-old student at the University of Washington recently gouged out his right eye and cut off his right hand. Campus police say that, en route to the hospital, the youth quoted these words: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”—Matt. 5:29, 30, “Revised Standard Version.”
Some who read the newspaper report of the mutilation incident may wonder how this statement by Jesus Christ is to be understood. The plucking out of the eye and the cutting off of the hand are here not to be applied literally.
The application to be made is stated in Colossians 3:5-7: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of those things the wrath of God is coming. In those very things you, too, once walked when you used to live in them.” So, the proper course is, not to mutilate oneself, but to deaden one’s body members toward sin.—1 Cor. 9:27.
Religion and Violence
● An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 persons have died during 14 months of civil war in Lebanon. “On-the-spot slayings and kidnappings on religious grounds have been daily occurrences,” writes Henry Tanner in a special report to the New York “Times.” However, this reporter states that he has “encountered as much courage, decency, character and thoughtfulness [in Lebanon] as he has seen anywhere.” Why, then, is there such collective violence?
Correspondent Tanner says: “In the view of qualified analysts of the Lebanese character, religion has ceased to restrain violence in a relatively poor country that lies between the Arab world and the West but belongs to neither and that has become the arena for another clash—between waning traditional values and the crassest modern materialism.”
Religion in general has failed to inculcate teachings that create appreciation for spiritual things and that would deter persons from resorting to violence. Certainly, nominal Christianity has failed to do so in Lebanon and elsewhere. Yet, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in that war-torn land and throughout the world have high regard for spiritual things, acting in a way that results in ‘storing up treasures in heaven.’—Matt. 6:19-21.
Moreover, Jehovah’s Witnesses shun violence because they follow the Biblical admonition to “pursue peace with all people.” (Heb. 12:14) They have ‘beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears, learning war no more.’ (Isa. 2:3, 4) Indeed, true religion engenders appreciation for spiritual values and deters those practicing it from resorting to violence.—2 Cor. 10:3, 4.