The Permanent End of Violence—How?
TO STEM the tide of violence, a number of cities in the United States experimented with a novel idea—cash or goods for guns turned in, no questions asked. The result? At a cost of $341,000, the city of St. Louis, for example, collected 8,500 guns. A similar program in New York City netted more than a thousand weapons.
What effect did all of this have on crime? Regrettably, very little. Gun-related homicides reached an all-time peak in St. Louis the following year. In New York City, there are still an estimated two million guns on the streets. In the United States, there are about 200 million guns in private hands, nearly one for every man, woman, and child. In other lands, gun-related violence is increasing at an alarming rate. In Britain “between 1983 and 1993, the number of offences recorded by police in which firearms were involved nearly doubled, to 14,000,” says The Economist. Though the homicide rate is relatively low, there are about one million illegal weapons in that country.
Surely, any reduction in those fearsome numbers is a step forward. However, measures such as those described above hardly get to the root causes of violence. What are those causes? Many factors have been cited, but a few of them are fundamental. Lack of family stability and moral instruction has driven many youths to join gangs for a sense of belonging. The lure of big profits induces many to resort to violence. Injustice pushes others to redress matters by violent means. Pride of country, race, or station in life causes people to ignore the suffering of others. These are deep-rooted factors for which there are no quick fixes.
What Can Be Done?
More police, stiffer prison terms, gun control, the death penalty—these have all been proposed and tried as means to curb crime and violence. They have brought varying degrees of success, but the sad fact is that violence is still very much with us. Why? It is because these measures merely treat the symptoms.
On the other hand, many experts feel that the key to putting an end to violence is education. While this idea is sound, we must note that violence is not limited to nations where educational opportunities are limited. If anything, it seems that some of the most violent nations are also those with the highest standards of education. It is not difficult to see that what is needed is not just education but the right kind of education. What kind would that be? Is there someone who is able to teach people to be peace-loving and upright individuals?
“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17, 18) How does Jehovah God teach people to be peace loving and righteous? Primarily through his Word, the Bible.
The Power of God’s Word
The Bible is far from being just a collection of old fables and sayings that are out-of-date and irrelevant. It contains principles and ideas from mankind’s Creator, who, from his supreme vantage point, knows human nature better than anyone else. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” says Jehovah God.—Isaiah 55:9.
For this reason the apostle Paul testifies that “the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Yes, God’s Word has the power to reach in and touch a person’s heart and change his thinking and behavior. Is this not what is needed to change people’s violent ways today?
Jehovah’s Witnesses, now numbering about five million in over 230 lands, are living proof that God’s Word, indeed, has power to transform lives for the better. Among them are people from every nationality, language, and race. They also come from all walks of life and social backgrounds. Some of them formerly led violent and troubled lives. But instead of allowing such factors to foment animosity, rivalry, discrimination, and hatred in their midst, they have learned to overcome these barriers and have become a peace-loving and united people worldwide. What has made this possible?
A Campaign That Ends Violence
Jehovah’s Witnesses are committed to helping others to gain accurate knowledge of God’s purpose as revealed in his Word, the Bible. In every corner of the earth, they are searching out those who want to learn Jehovah’s ways and be taught by him. Their efforts are bearing fruit. The result of this educational campaign is that a marvelous prophecy is being fulfilled.
Some 2,700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write: “It must occur in the final part of the days that . . . many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’”—Isaiah 2:2, 3.
Being taught by Jehovah and walking in his paths can produce wonderful changes in people’s lives. One of the changes is foretold in the same prophecy: “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) Many people have read this scripture. In fact, this text is carved on a wall at the United Nations Plaza in New York City. It is a reminder of what the United Nations aspires to but has failed to realize. This elimination of war and violence is not to be achieved by any man-made political organization. It is something that Jehovah God alone is capable of doing. How will he accomplish it?
Obviously not everyone will respond to the invitation to “go up to the mountain of Jehovah” and ‘be instructed about his ways’ and “walk in his paths”; nor will all be willing to “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.” What will Jehovah do about such ones? He will not forever hold open the door of opportunity or wait on them to change. To bring an end to violence, Jehovah will also bring an end to those who insist on their violent ways.
A Vital Lesson
What God did in Noah’s day provides a warning lesson for us today. The Bible record shows what kind of world existed then: “The earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence.” On this account, God informed Noah: “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth.”—Genesis 6:11, 13.
We must note one important point. When bringing the Deluge upon that generation, God preserved Noah and his family. Why? The Bible answers: “Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9; 7:1) While not everyone living at that time was necessarily a violent person, only Noah and his family “walked with the true God.” Because of that they survived when that violent world was brought to an end.
As we see the earth once again becoming “filled with violence,” we can be sure that it does not go unnoticed by God. Just as he did in Noah’s day, so he will soon take action and put an end to violence—permanently. But he will also provide a way to safety for those who are now learning to ‘walk with the true God,’ those who are responding to his great educational campaign for peace.
Through the psalmist, Jehovah gives this assurance: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:10, 11.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to study the Bible with you so that you can join those who say: “Let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:3) By so doing, you can be among those who will see the end of all wickedness and violence. You can find “exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”
[Picture Credit Line on page 5]