“Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.”—PSALM 146:3.
3. What evidence is there that trust is a casualty of our age?
3 In these fearful times, we very much need others whom we can trust, those who will be loyal, a help in time of need. But many feel let down by the ones whom they trusted. A newspaper in one land declared: “People Don’t Trust Most Public Institutions.” The least trusted were political and business leaders. Distrust has increased in the family too, as evidenced by high divorce rates. In some nations, there is one divorce for every three marriages or even one for every two. In one country, 70 percent of all new marriages end in divorce within ten years! So trust is a growing casualty. Distrust is taking its place. No longer unusual is the comment of a person who said: “I don’t trust anyone anymore.”
4. How are many young people affected by fear?
4 There is so much distrust because this is the most fearful time in all human history. This century has seen two world wars and scores of other wars that have taken over a hundred million lives. Now, nuclear weapons threaten to annihilate all life on earth. And this affects the trust of even the very young. A medical journal reported: “More and more children, even toddlers, are becoming frightened by the threat of nuclear holocaust.” A Canadian newspaper said that there is now “a cynicism, sadness, bitterness and sense of helplessness” in many young people. One youth said: “We just don’t feel protected by the adult population. We may grow up to be the most cynical generation ever.”
5. If they could talk, how might the most innocent and helpless group of young ones feel?
5 And what would another group of young ones say—if they could speak—about not feeling protected by adults? We mean those who are killed by abortions before they are born. One estimate puts the number of abortions worldwide at about 55 million every year. What a betrayal of the most innocent and helpless part of humanity!
6. How has crime added to distrust in our time?
6 Distrust has increased because of another growing fear in our day: the fear of becoming a victim of crime. Many now do like the woman who said that she sleeps with a revolver under her pillow. Another fearful woman said: “I resent it. . . . My grandmother never locked her doors.” Thus, a newspaper editorial in Puerto Rico declared: “The ones who are imprisoned are us,” yes, in our own barred and locked homes. These fears are well founded. In the United States, for example, one woman in three is likely to be assaulted during her lifetime. The surgeon general there noted that “some four million Americans fall victim to serious violence every year—murder, rape, wife-beating, child-abuse, muggings.” Such crime is common in many lands, further damaging the trust that people have in others.
7. Why do bad economic conditions contribute to distrust?
7 In underdeveloped nations, most people live in poverty. Few trust anyone to get them out of it. The president of one such country said that in one province, out of every 1,000 babies born, 270 die before they are one year old. Only one out of every 100 houses has water. Another country’s government says that 60 percent of its children are needy, and seven million abandoned children “are growing up as illiterate, alienated and unemployable outcasts.” In the United States, the number of homeless youths is estimated to be 500,000, but some say the real figure is much higher. How much trust can such young ones have in their parents, in society, in law and order, or in the promises of leaders?
8. (a) How is the stability of wealthy nations and the global economy threatened? (b) To what extent can experts be trusted to solve economic problems?
8 Economic problems plague even wealthy nations. Recently, the United States had the largest number of bank failures since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. An economist wrote: “The net result is a banking system that is surely as fragile today as it was in the 1920’s,” just before it collapsed. An observer spoke of “a potentially devastating approaching storm” in the world economy. Another said: “The feeling of urgency comes because these strains in the international system are no longer looming; they have arrived.” Can economists be trusted to guide the nations out of this trouble? One of them said that their forecasting record “is so appalling that there is no doubt they are mostly spreading confusion.”
9. (a) What has happened to the optimism that existed at the turn of the century? (b) Why would Jehovah’s Witnesses not have wanted to sign a United Nations document in 1945?
9 How different all of this is from the optimism that existed when the world entered the 20th century. There had been decades of comparative peace, and it was felt that peace and prosperity would reach new heights. But in 1914 World War I shattered that outlook. In 1945, after a more terrible second world war, the United Nations Charter was signed. The nations put into writing their vision of a postwar world of peace, prosperity, and justice. A recent report said: “The final document was signed by 51 countries, representing every continent, race and religion.” Yet there was one religion that was not represented, nor wanted to be, Jehovah’s Witnesses. They knew that those promises of peace, prosperity, and justice would not be realized by any nation of this world or by any association of them, such as the United Nations.
10. What is the reality today compared to the dream of the United Nations back in 1945?
10 That same report says: ‘Forty years later it seems appropriate to review the realities against the ideals. The evidence is sobering. A less equitable, less secure world, and growing violence, are the realities. The population lacking food, water, shelter, health care, and education is steadily growing larger. This was not in the dream of 1945.’ It adds: ‘Forty years after nations joined together to ensure that all people could live in freedom from fear and want, the real world of the 1980’s is one of crushing poverty for at least one quarter of humanity. Deaths related to hunger average 50,000 a day.’ Yet, the nations spend over a hundred million dollars every hour on war!
11. How trustworthy are human promises of a better world?
11 In view of this dismal record after centuries of opportunity, can we trust human promises to solve these problems? Such promises are about as trustworthy as the words of the captain of a large ocean liner who said: “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a [large] ship to founder. . . . Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” A crew member of that vessel said to a passenger: “God himself could not sink this ship.” Yet, that ship, the Titanic, sank in 1912 with the loss of 1,500 lives. In 1931 the National Education Association in the United States said that by means of education “crime will be virtually abolished before 1950.” In 1936 a British journalist wrote that “food, clothing and shelter will cost as little as air” by 1960. Do you not agree that today’s realities belie those promises?