Insight on the News
Justice for the Victim
“One of our biggest problems in criminal law is restitution for the victims,” said Judge Michael Beal of North Carolina, U.S.A. As anyone who has ever been burglarized, mugged, robbed or otherwise vandalized knows, not only is the victim seldom repaid for his losses but he, in effect, has to pay through taxes for the maintenance of the criminals if they are sent to jail. Such is the state of criminal justice.
Now, according to The New York Times, a program to redress this problem is being tried in North Carolina. Rather than being sent to jail or reform school, juvenile offenders are sent on Saturdays and holidays to work on farms, plowing fields or chopping wood. The major part of the offender’s wage goes to the victim, but a small portion is set aside in a contingency fund, which he receives after the victim has been repaid in full. In its first year, the program took in 34 boys, 10 to 15 years of age. All but one, who moved away, repaid their victims in full. Justice for the victim, at last!
Such justice, however, was a built-in part of the Law that God gave to the nation of Israel. In cases of theft or property damage, the Law required that if the offender could not repay the victim the stipulated amount, he could be sold as a slave, thus reimbursing the victim and making the criminal work for his own upkeep. (Exodus 22:1-6) These laws reflect the justice and wisdom of the perfect “Judge,” “Statute-Giver” and “King,” Jehovah God.—Isaiah 33:22.
Science or Fiction?
Interest in extraterrestrial life has gained a tremendous popular following in recent years owing, in no small measure, to space travel, science fiction and the movie industry. Indeed, the two most popular motion pictures in history—Star Wars and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial—are both on this subject. At the same time, costly scientific projects are going on in real earnest to find life and/or intelligence in outer space. The result is that for many people, especially the young, it is becoming increasingly harder to tell where science ends and where fiction begins. The existence of extraterrestrials and the possibility of communicating with and being influenced by them have crept into people’s consciousness subtly through the back door, as it were.
Commenting on this phenomenon, Jack Catran, a scientist in the space industry, writes in a Newsweek magazine article entitled “E.A. = Enough Already”: “Writers and moviemakers have the right to speculate on any scientific subject, but let’s call it what it is: science fiction, not science. And let’s label their objectives what they are: exploitation and sales, not education.” Surely, the Bible’s advice to distinguish between facts and what is “falsely called ‘knowledge’” is the course of wisdom.—1 Timothy 6:20.
Last December the NCCB (National Conference of Catholic Bishops) voted to terminate its five-year-old program and committee for promoting evangelizing work. “Spreading the ‘good news’ is no longer a national priority for the bishops’ conference,” says the National Catholic Reporter. “It has been fobbed off to the local level and to happenstance.”
But why has the NCCB abandoned its evangelization effort? “The time is not yet when most Catholics accept they are called upon to evangelize as a natural component of their faith,” says the Reporter, adding that “there was no great awareness that evangelizing was the one great overriding activity into which everything the church was doing should fit.”
What a contrast this is to the burning evangelizing spirit of the first-century Christians! Even opposers were moved to say: “Look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” (Acts 5:28) Rather than leaving it “to happenstance,” the apostle Paul declared: “For a necessity lieth upon me: for woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.”—1 Corinthians 9:16, Catholic Douay Version.
Today, in response to Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:14 and Mt 28:19, 20, Jehovah’s Witnesses have indeed made preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom “the one great overriding activity” in their life. Theirs is a worldwide evangelizing organization.