Will Cruelty Ever End?
MANY would readily agree that selfishness is a key factor in the cruelty in the world today. The seeds sown decades ago by the so-called me generation have produced a society in which the majority are concerned primarily about themselves. Many will do whatever it takes to get their own way, often resulting in cruel acts. This is true not only of individuals but also of entire nations.
The lives of fellow humans no longer seem to matter. Some people even enjoy being cruel. They find it entertaining, much like criminals who confess that they harm others just for the thrill of it. And what about the millions whose preference for films featuring violence and cruelty encourages the motion picture industry to cash in on such themes? Constant exposure to brutal acts through entertainment and the news media desensitizes many.
Cruelty often does psychological harm and sets in motion a vicious cycle. Referring to the violence engendered by cruelty, Noemí Díaz Marroquín, who teaches at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, says: “Violence is learned, it’s cultural . . . We learn how to act out in violent ways when our environment allows and encourages it.” Thus, those who have been victims of abuse may well end up abusing others, perhaps even in the same ways that they were abused.
In other cases, those who misuse such substances as alcohol and drugs may end up behaving cruelly. Not to be overlooked are individuals who are dissatisfied with their government for not meeting the needs of the people. Some of them, being determined to make their views known, resort to cruel acts and foster terrorism, often at the expense of the innocent.
You might wonder though: ‘Have men learned to act cruelly on their own? What is behind the present situation?’
Who Really Is Behind Cruelty?
The Bible tells us that Satan the Devil wields a strong influence over this world, calling him “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) He is the most selfish and cruel person in the universe. Jesus well described him as “a manslayer” and “the father of the lie.”—John 8:44.
Ever since the disobedience of Adam and Eve, mankind has been under the powerful influence of Satan. (Genesis 3:1-7, 16-19) Some 15 centuries after the first human pair turned their backs on Jehovah, rebellious angels materialized, had relations with women, and produced a hybrid race called the Nephilim. What was their distinctive characteristic? Their name provides the answer. It means “the Fellers,” or “those who cause others to fall down.” Evidently, they were violent individuals who brought cruelty and immorality that only a flood of divine origin could bring to an end. (Genesis 6:4, 5, 17, footnote) Although the Nephilim were annihilated in the Flood, their fathers went back to the spirit realm as invisible demons.—1 Peter 3:19, 20.
The cruel disposition of the rebellious angels is evident in the case of a demon-possessed boy in Jesus’ day. The demon repeatedly caused the child to have convulsions, throwing him into fire and into water in an effort to destroy him. (Mark 9:17-22) Clearly, such “wicked spirit forces” reflect the pitiless personality of their cruel commander in chief, Satan the Devil.—Ephesians 6:12.
Today, demonic influence continues to promote human cruelty, as was foretold in the Bible: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, . . . self-assuming, haughty, . . . unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Bible prophecies reveal that our times are particularly critical because after God’s Kingdom by Christ Jesus was established in 1914, Satan and his demon hordes were ousted from the heavens. The Bible declares: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:5-9, 12.
Does this mean that the situation cannot improve? Díaz Marroquín, quoted earlier, states that “people are capable of unlearning” undesirable behavior. However, with Satan’s influence permeating the earth today, a person is unlikely to unlearn it unless he allows a different, superior force to influence his way of thinking and acting. What is this force?
Happily, God’s holy spirit is the most powerful force that exists, and it can overcome any demonic influence. It promotes love and the well-being of humans. To be filled with God’s spirit, everyone who wishes to please Jehovah must avoid conduct even bordering on cruelty. This requires transforming one’s personality to conform to the divine will. And what is that will? It is for us to imitate God’s way to the extent possible. This involves viewing others as God does.—Ephesians 5:1, 2; Colossians 3:7-10.
A study of God’s way of handling things will convince you that Jehovah has never shown a lack of interest in others. He has never treated unjustly any human or for that matter any animal. * (Deuteronomy 22:10; Psalm 36:7; Proverbs 12:10) He repudiates cruelty and all who practice it. (Proverbs 3:31, 32) The new personality that Jehovah requires Christians to cultivate helps them to consider others as superior and to respect them. (Philippians 2:2-4) That new Christian personality includes “the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” Not to be ignored is love, “for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:12-14) Do you not agree that the world would be a different place if such qualities abounded?
However, you may wonder if lasting personality changes are really possible. Well, consider a real-life example. Martín * used to yell at his wife right in front of their children and severely beat her. On one occasion, the situation became so bad that the children had to run to the neighbors for help. After a number of years, the family began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Martín learned what kind of person he should be and how he should treat others. Was he able to change? His wife answers: “In the past, my husband was a different person when he lost his temper. Because of this, our life was in a shambles for a long time. I don’t have enough words to thank Jehovah for helping Martín to change. Now he is a good father and an excellent husband.”
That is but one case. Around the globe, millions who have studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses have put cruelty behind them. Yes, it is possible to change.
The End of All Cruelty Draws Near
In the near future, God’s Kingdom—a government now established in the heavens with a compassionate Ruler, Christ Jesus—will exercise full authority over the earth. It has already cleansed the heavens of Satan, the source of all cruelty, and his demons. Soon, God’s Kingdom will satisfy the needs of its peace-loving subjects on earth. (Psalm 37:10, 11; Isaiah 11:2-5) That is the only real solution to the world’s problems. But what if while waiting for this Kingdom, you become a victim of cruelty?
Responding in kind to cruelty would not help. That would only result in more of the same. The Bible invites us to trust in Jehovah, who in his own due time will “give to each one according to his ways, according to the fruitage of his dealings.” (Jeremiah 17:10) (See the accompanying box, “How to React to Cruelty.”) True, you may suffer because of being the victim of a cruel crime. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Yet, God can undo the results of any cruelty, even death. According to his promise, those in his memory who have lost their lives to cruel acts will return to life.—John 5:28, 29.
Although the possibility of becoming a victim of cruelty still exists, we can find comfort in having a close relationship with God and firm faith in his promises. Consider Sara who without the help of a husband raised her two sons and made sure that they received a good education. In her old age, her sons abandoned her, giving neither material support nor medical attention. However, Sara, now a Christian, says: “Although I can’t help feeling sad, Jehovah has not abandoned me. I feel his support through my spiritual brothers and sisters, who are always looking out for me. I firmly believe that soon he will solve not only my problems but those of all who trust in his power and do what he commands.”
Who are the spiritual brothers and sisters to whom Sara referred? They are her Christian associates, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They form a worldwide brotherhood of compassionate people who are convinced that very soon cruelty will end. (1 Peter 2:17) Neither the one principally responsible for the cruelty, Satan the Devil, nor anyone who acts like him will remain. This “era of brutality,” as one writer calls it, will be a thing of the past. Why not learn about this hope by getting in touch with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
^ par. 16 For an in-depth consideration of God’s qualities and personality, see the book Draw Close to Jehovah, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 17 Some names have been changed.
[Box on page 6]
How to React to Cruelty
God’s Word offers practical counsel about how to deal with cruelty. Consider how you can apply the following words of wisdom:
“Do not say: ‘I will pay back evil!’ Hope in Jehovah, and he will save you.”—Proverbs 20:22.
“If you see any oppression of the one of little means and the violent taking away of judgment and of righteousness . . . , do not be amazed over the affair, for one that is higher than the high one is watching.”—Ecclesiastes 5:8.
“Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—Matthew 5:5.
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
“Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Romans 12:17-19.
“Even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. . . . When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”—1 Peter 2:21-23.
[Pictures on page 7]
Jehovah has taught many to put cruelty behind them