Insight on the News
“Instruments” of Peace?
“Instruments of security and freedom for the nations.” That is how Pope John Paul II described soldiers attending Mass in St. Peter’s Square. The religious service was for members of armies from 24 countries and was held in connection with the Roman Catholic Church’s Holy Year. The pope told the soldiers: “Your strength is necessary for the welfare of your fellowman, for the security of your fatherland, for the common good of national and international peace!”
What a change this is from the attitude displayed during the early centuries of our Common Era, as revealed even by church history! For example, the Swiss Catholic publication Orientierung says of the patron “saint” of France, “Saint” Martin, (316-397 C.E.): “That this highly renowned saint of Western Christianity resigned from military service out of Christian conviction, considering being a soldier and a Christian at the same time incompatible, has always been embarrassing to Catholic theology. This fact—either deliberately or undeliberately—has simply been kept quiet.” Allegedly, “Saint” Martin said to Roman Emperor Julian: “I am Christ’s soldier; I am not allowed to fight.”
Rather than urging his followers to engage in temporal warfare, Jesus Christ encouraged them to ‘continue to love their enemies.’ (Matthew 5:44) The apostle Paul indicated the Christian’s position toward participation in earthly conflicts when he wrote: “The truth is that, although we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level.”—2 Corinthians 10:3, Phillips’ The New Testament in Modern English.
Famine now stalks masses of people across a wide belt of north-central Africa and is leaving great misery and the death of millions in its wake. But it was generally unknown that between 1958 and 1961 drought, floods and infestations turned China’s poor harvests into severe food shortages. For the first time, officials of mainland China recently acknowledged that more than ten million of her inhabitants died during that four-year famine. Associated Press writer Jeff Bradley quotes The State Statistical Bureau spokesman, Xu Gang, as saying that during those years “over 10 million people” experienced unnatural deaths “due to both man-made factors and serious natural disasters.”
Efforts to cover up the facts notwithstanding, famine’s death toll for this century cannot be hidden. All of this adds to the powerful fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning ‘the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of this system of things.’—Matthew 24:3.
“What Is Happening in Our Society?”
So often today, violence strikes at the most unexpected times and places. For example, the peace of an early Sunday afternoon in a Sydney suburb was shattered suddenly when rival “bikie” gangs armed with shotguns, rifles, knives, clubs, screwdrivers and chains waged open warfare on one another. When the battle ended about 15 minutes later, six members of two motorcycle gangs and a 14-year-old female bystander lay dead. At least 20 others had been injured, some seriously.
A question that is being asked by many people in Australia and the rest of the world was well summed up in The Australian of September 3, 1984: “What is happening in our society?” Individuals who are “taught by Jehovah” know the answer. (John 6:45) What Australia recently witnessed is just one frame in a long reel of continuous acts of violence seen worldwide since the year 1914. No place on earth is immune to the deadly touch of violence. The Bible points to such things as evidence that mankind is living in “the last days.” True to the prophetic Word of God, we now see an “increasing of lawlessness” and a society plagued with people who are “without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.”—Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-3.