Insight on the News
Generation of “Wicked Characters”
Writing in Nigeria’s National Concord, newspaper columnist Derek Ingram speaks of World War II as the European civil war and says: “It was just the worst civil war of many over the centuries; in a sense the second part of a 31-year civil war that began in 1914 . . . What is so extraordinary about the period 1933-1945 is that Europe produced such an array of truly wicked characters all at the same time. How on earth did it come about that there was not just the raving, bizarre figure of Adolf Hitler but a whole galaxy of larger than life horror figures?” Then listing Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Mussolini and Stalin as opprobrious examples, he says of them: “All men of the same generation, in power, and with hundreds of millions of people terrorised into following them.”
The Bible answers Mr. Ingram’s question. It speaks of “the last days” and “the conclusion of the system of things” as marked by men “having no natural affection,” “without self-control, fierce,” and of a divided world, with ‘nation rising against nation’ and ‘the love of many people growing cold.’ (Matthew 24:3, 7, 12; 2 Timothy 3:1-3) Since 1914 these prophecies and others have been seeing their fulfillment. They point to the root cause behind a generation of “wicked characters”—Satan the Devil. He is identified as being responsible for bringing “woe for the earth” and influencing people to reflect his own wicked personality. Yet he knows that he has but “a short period of time” left. So we can take courage because, Jesus said, “Your deliverance is getting near.”—Revelation 12:7-12; Luke 21:28.
How Strong Is Peer Pressure?
“Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it,” advises Proverbs 22:6. Is this Biblical advice sound today? Yes, especially with regard to religious values. In a recent article published in the quarterly Adolescence, David A. de Vaus, Ph.D., of LaTrobe University, Victoria, Australia, reported that “in the realm of the sacred (in this case, religious beliefs), parents are more important than peers” in shaping the religious direction their children will take.
Dr. de Vaus’ study of 375 Australian adolescents, 16 to 18 years old, provides evidence that parents are the strongest force for the religious orientation of their children. Although parents win over peer pressure in molding their children’s religious belief, his study does not indicate that this would be true for the adolescent’s religious behavior. Therefore, Christian parents do well not only to raise their children “with Christian discipline and instruction” but also to seek out wholesome associates for their children while heeding the Biblical warning: “Bad companions ruin good character.”—Ephesians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:33, Today’s English Version.
World Economy Struggles
While the economies of industrial countries struggle to recover after being hit by the economic slump afflicting the world since 1980, “the economic conditions of many developing countries have worsened,” states The World Development Report 1983, published for the World Bank. “The recession has lasted longer than expected and has set back global development more decisively than at any time since the Great Depression” of the 1930’s, notes A. W. Clausen, president of the World Bank. The report does not paint a rosy picture for the future either. It concludes: “Population continues to grow inexorably, production and trade have lagged, unemployment has risen . . . and large debts overhang many countries” with the “danger that continued recession in developing countries will undermine the pace of economic recovery in the industrial countries.”
Man’s efforts to improve the world may be sincere, but the psalmist wisely advises: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.” Rather, “Happy is the one . . . whose hope is in Jehovah his God.”—Psalm 146:3, 5.