Soon—A World Without War!
ON DECEMBER 24, 1914, a young British soldier named Jim Prince walked across no-man’s-land to talk to a German infantryman. “I am a Saxon. You are an Anglo-Saxon. Why do we fight?” the German asked him. Years later, Prince confessed: “I still don’t know the answer to that question.”
For one extraordinary week in 1914, soldiers of the British and German armies fraternized, played soccer, and even exchanged Christmas presents. That truce was, of course, an unofficial one. The generals did not want their troops to discover that the “enemy” was not the vicious monster depicted by war propaganda. British soldier Albert Moren later recalled: “If the cease-fire had gone on for another week, it would have been very hard to get the war started again.”
That spontaneous cease-fire suggests that even many trained soldiers yearn for peace rather than for war. Most soldiers who have known the horrors of battle would endorse the Spanish proverb: “Let him go to war who knows not what war is.” Doubtless, a worldwide opinion poll conducted among the public at large would reveal that an overwhelming majority prefer peace to war. But how can this universal desire for peace be translated into a warless world?
Before war can be abolished, attitudes must change. The constitution of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization states: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed.” Yet present-day society, where mistrust and hatred are rampant, is getting more violent, not more peaceful.
Nevertheless, God himself promised that one day peace would be imprinted upon the minds of righteously disposed people. Through his prophet Isaiah, he said: “He [God] will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:4.
Promoting Peace in the Mind
Can such a remarkable change in thinking occur? Will people ever learn to safeguard peace rather than glorify war? Consider the example of Wolfgang Kusserow. In 1942 the Nazis beheaded this 20-year-old German because he ‘would not learn war.’ Why did he choose to die? In a written statement, he quoted such Scriptural principles as, “You must love your neighbor as yourself” and, “All those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 22:39; 26:52) He then pointedly asked: “Did our Creator have all this written down for the trees?”
God’s word, recorded in the Bible, “exerts power” and impelled this young Witness of Jehovah to pursue peace, regardless of the consequences. (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 3:11) But Wolfgang Kusserow was not the only one who thus pursued peace. In the book The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45, J. S. Conway cites official Nazi archives testifying that Jehovah’s Witnesses as a group refused to take up arms. As Conway points out, such a courageous stand virtually meant signing their own death warrant.
Jehovah’s Witnesses today continue to pursue peace, irrespective of their race or nationality. Why? Because they have learned from the Bible that true servants of God have to beat their swords into plowshares. Alejandro, a young Argentinean man who immigrated to Israel in 1987, can personally testify to this fact.
For three years Alejandro lived in a kibbutz while studying at a university and working in various hotels and restaurants. During this time, he began to read the Bible and was searching for a purpose in life. Above all, he longed to see a world where people could enjoy peace and justice. Alejandro—a Jew—worked alongside Jews and Arabs but preferred not to favor either side.
In 1990 a friend who was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses invited Alejandro to a one-day assembly in Haifa. Amazed to find 600 Jews and Arabs mingling happily at the assembly, he thought to himself, ‘This is the right way for people to live.’ Within six months, he became a Witness himself and now devotes most of his time to preaching the Bible’s message of peace.
How God Will Bring Peace
Touching as these examples are, they are the exception rather than the rule in today’s world. Although the present system pays lip service to peace, it waters the seeds of war. Would you like to live on a street where the residents spend between 7 and 16 percent of their earnings on guns and house protection? In effect, that is what the nations have been doing through military expenditures in recent years. Not surprisingly, Isaiah’s prophecy reveals that mankind as a whole will never beat its swords into plowshares until God ‘sets matters straight respecting many peoples.’ How will he do that?
The principal means for setting things straight is Jehovah God’s Kingdom. The prophet Daniel foretold that ‘the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that would never be brought to ruin.’ This Kingdom, he adds, “will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [worldly governments], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:44) These words reveal that God’s Kingdom will firmly establish its control over all the earth. By eliminating national boundaries, the Kingdom will make rivalries obsolete. Furthermore, since its subjects will be “persons taught by Jehovah,” their peace “will be abundant.” (Isaiah 54:13) No wonder Jesus told us to pray to God: “Let your kingdom come”!—Matthew 6:10.
Removing Religious Obstacles
God will also remove religious obstacles to peace. Religion was behind the longest armed conflict in history—the Crusades, or “Holy Wars,” launched by Pope Urban II in 1095 C.E.* In our century the clergy have been prominent in drumming up popular support for wars, even those of an entirely secular nature.
Referring to the role of nominal Christian churches during World War I, historian Paul Johnson wrote: “Clergymen were unable, and for the most part unwilling, to place Christian faith before nationality. Most took the easy way out and equated Christianity with patriotism. Christian soldiers of all denominations were exhorted to kill each other in the name of their Saviour.”
Religion has done more to kindle war than to nurture peace. In fact, the Bible depicts false religion as a “harlot” who panders to the world’s rulers. (Revelation 17:1, 2) God pronounces her the principal culprit responsible for shedding the blood of all those slaughtered on the earth. (Revelation 18:24) Consequently, Jehovah God will eliminate this obstacle to peace once and for all.—Revelation 18:4, 5, 8.
Even with the disappearance of such divisive elements as politics and false religion, peace would never be secure without the removal of the greatest warmonger of all—Satan the Devil. That is the final task that God’s Kingdom will undertake in its program to bring total peace to the earth. The Bible book of Revelation explains that Satan will be “seized” and “bound” and “hurled . . . into the abyss” so that “he might not mislead the nations anymore.” Thereafter he will be destroyed completely.—Revelation 20:2, 3, 10.
The Bible’s promise of an end to war is not an idle dream. Jehovah God’s arrangement for peace has already been set in motion. His Kingdom has been established in the heavens and is poised to carry out further measures to guarantee global peace. Meanwhile, millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who support this heavenly government, have learned to live in peace.
Clearly, then, we have sound reasons to believe that wars are not inevitable. Better still, we can look forward to the day near at hand when Jehovah will make warfare cease forever. (Psalm 46:9) He will see to it that there will soon be a world without war.
Sometimes religious leaders themselves became warriors. At the Battle of Hastings (1066), Catholic bishop Odo justified his active involvement by wielding a mace rather than a sword. He claimed that if blood was not shed, a man of God could kill legitimately. Five centuries later, Cardinal Ximenes personally led a Spanish invasion of North Africa.
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You can live in a new world without war