• What Will Our Future Be?

    HE WAS seventeen years old, and he was speaking to the leader of his country on national television. He told the experienced politician facing him: “I am afraid of the future , a future in a world characterized by nuclear threats. . . . I am also afraid of your politics.”

    Many young people have a similar fear of the future . Do you? It is understandable if you do, in view of the problems young people have to face today.

    For example, the traditional way to prepare for a secure future is to get a good education. Yet today even a basic education may be difficult to get. One commentator said: “To tell the truth, no one is satisfied with the schools any more, not the teachers, not the students, and above all not the parents.” The failure of many schools is seen in the large number of students who graduate without even the most basic skills. Is this a problem with your school?

    And if you desire to go on to higher education, what then? In some lands this is getting out of reach. In Germany, it is estimated that, by 1985, 260,000 youths each year will have their applications to attend some university turned down. This is frustrating for both the disappointed applicants and others.

    An education official explains that those unable to attend a university “move into jobs aspired to by the level below them, which in turn is forced into jobs on an even lower level. In the end, working-class types looking for semiskilled jobs get pushed out of the market altogether.” What kind of future will they have?

    Even those who are successful still fear the future . A secure job or a university degree would have little value in a nuclear war​—which more and more young people feel is likely to come. And even if war is averted, spreading pollution, deteriorating economies, inflation and the other grim realities of today’s world make a secure

    future unlikely. These and other problems have caused frustration among youths, and their reactions have sometimes been extreme.

    The Dangers of Frustration

    Some have turned to alcohol and drugs. But how does this help to solve the problems? Is a young person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol more likely to find a job in a society with high unemployment, or less so? Is he more likely, or less likely, to gain one of those coveted university places?

    Others have let their frustrations boil over into violence. But surely you can see that this is no answer either. Rioting, destroying property and otherwise creating havoc merely increase the insecurity of others, and force the authorities to spend valuable resources on preserving law and order and restoring damaged areas.

    Still others have ‘dropped out,’ giving up the struggle. A number have lost all hope​—so many, in fact, that in West Germany suicide is the second most frequent cause of death among teenagers. Some young people, however, have turned to religion. Have you ever thought that perhaps that is where the answer lies?

    What Can Religion Contribute?

    Last year, in June, the nineteenth Evangelical Church Congress was held in Hamburg, Germany. The theme was “Have No Fear!” More than half of those in attendance, which exceeded 100,000, were teenagers. It would seem that here was a fine opportunity for them to hear answers, if religion has any to offer. Does it?

    One newspaper report of the conference read: “The program was fear, the state of mind was fear​—seldom has the inner desolation of so many people been seen so plainly . . . On all sides, fear, hopelessness, distrust​—and this among, of all people, Christians.” Evidently, those tens of thousands of teenagers did not hear the message of hope that they were looking for.

    Why was this? Listen to this report from the newspaper Die Welt: “The issue at this Church Congress has been . . . politics. It has been not piety, but involvement. Of concern has been not the salvation of the beyond, but the fear of calamity in the here and now.” The overriding interest in politics was shown by a pathetic note pinned by a young girl to a wall reserved for messages. It read: “Why haven’t I heard anything about Jesus?”

    Many religions are like this. Their message has become political rather than Scriptural. Do you ever wonder why religionists feel they can intervene in politics and solve the world’s problems, when professional politicians have been trying this approach for so long with little success?

    If politicians, religionists and other world leaders cannot reassure us about the

    future , does that mean that there is no hope? Not necessarily. If those tens of thousands of teenagers who attended the Church Congress in Hamburg had returned a few weeks later, they could have learned of another approach to the problem.

    Another Approach to the Problem

    At that time another convention was held in Hamburg, this one by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here, too, a reporter noted “the astonishing number” of young people present. But these youths did not hear discussions about politics. Rather, the reporter said: “The ‘Witnesses’ . . . do not take an active part in politics. For them there’s just God’s government.” Why is that?

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have realistically learned the lesson taught by all world history​—that man is unable to bring peace and security to the earth. That is why the Bible warns: “Do not put your trust in nobles [human leaders], . . . to whom no salvation belongs.” However, it goes on to say: “Happy is the one . . . whose hope is in Jehovah his God.”​— Psalm 146:3, 5 .

    Why should we hope in Jehovah? Because he purposes to solve mankind’s problems in his own way. Jesus taught us to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place . . . upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10 ) This kingdom is a heavenly government, established by God, that will rule the earth in justice and remove wickedness. Jesus proclaimed it as the only way to a secure future . With the evident failure of men’s efforts, can you think of any alternative way?

    Doing Your Part

    Perhaps, though, you consider this naive. You may feel that Jehovah’s Witnesses are taking the easy way out​—just sitting back and waiting for God to solve all their problems. But that is not really so. They do not believe in doing nothing.

    They feel that those who sincerely want to see a better world should make themselves into persons worthy of such a world. Hence, they try to develop in themselves honesty, loyalty, unselfishness and truthfulness. Yes, rather than trying to change the system,

    Jehovah’s Witnesses work hard at changing themselves. Additionally, they share with others the hope of seeing a better world under God’s kingdom.

    This attitude can have a real effect on young people. For example, Giovanni became involved in bad company in his early teens. He says: “Soon I had learned how to steal bicycles and motorcycles and how to pick locks. . . . Hardly sixteen, I was regularly taking drugs . . . their bad aftereffects often made me consider suicide.”

    Today, at twenty-six, Giovanni is no longer a threat to the community or to himself. What caused the change? He answers: “What moved my heart most was the Bible’s message that in the

    future the earth will be cleansed of every kind of defilement and badness and be transformed into a worldwide paradise.”

    Each year, thousands of young persons

    make similar changes in their lives because of learning about this hope. The world community is that much better for their having done so.

    Of course, this belief does not entirely remove current problems. But it does make them easier to handle. A sure knowledge of God’s purposes removes fear of the future . Also, people who are honest, pleasant to deal with and optimistic make the most of whatever educational opportunities are open to them. And afterward they find it much easier to get employment than do those who have become surly or have turned to drugs and alcohol because of frustration.

    How Much Longer?

    If events continued in their present course, mankind would almost certainly destroy itself eventually. Hence, how much longer will it be before God’s kingdom intervenes? Evidently, not long.

    The apostle Paul wrote to a young friend and discussed with him the end of this system of things. Read his words for yourself. He wrote: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, 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 .

    Do you recognize the fulfillment of this? It is because people today have these attitudes that youths understandably fear the future . Did you notice, though, that Paul said such attitudes would be prevalent in the last days, the times immediately preceding God’s intervention in human affairs? This is one of the many scriptures proving that God will intervene

    soon. Why not discuss the matter with Jehovah’s Witnesses and see some of the other scriptures on this subject?

    The fear expressed by the teenager mentioned at the beginning in that television interview was real and understandable. But youths do not have to fear the future . They can learn from the Bible what God purposes to do. Then, if they wish, they can work toward a future that will be secure, fulfilling and full of hope.

    They can come to have the same conviction as the Bible writer who said: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . 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 .

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    A university degree would have little value in a nuclear war

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    Is addiction going to make it easier to find a job?

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    People can do something about improving their own lives

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    Witnesses share with others the hope of seeing a better world under God’s kingdom

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