Is Hope for Peace Fading?

“Today we get the feeling that we are living . . . in the middle of a tornado, an unparalleled catastrophe.”​—“La Repubblica” newspaper, Rome, Italy.

AFTER last year’s terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., more people than ever before wonder about the future of humanity. The TV images showing the Twin Towers collapsing in flames​—as well as those showing the desperation of the survivors—​have been broadcast countless times. These images have brought anguish to people around the world. Along with that anguish has come a sense that the world has somehow undergone a historic change. Has it?

War broke out in the wake of September 11, 2001. Soon, nations that had previously been hostile toward one another became allies in joint efforts to repress terrorism. All told, the toll of death and destruction has been high. But perhaps a more significant change for many people worldwide has been the loss of a sense of security, the increasing feeling that no one, anywhere, is truly safe.

World leaders find themselves facing enormous problems. Journalists and commentators wonder how terrorism can be prevented from spreading like wildfire, since it appears to be fueled by poverty and fanaticism​—ills that no one seems to know how to cure. Injustice is so widespread in the world that every ingredient is present for a highly explosive state of affairs. People of all kinds wonder whether society’s ills will ever be eliminated. Will war​—with all the misery, death, and ruin it brings—​ever end?

Millions of people turn to organized religion with these questions. Others, though, are more skeptical. What about you? Do you think that religious leaders can answer such questions? And can they actually contribute to peace by their prayers?