Archives for posts with tag: injustices

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Smita, * a 35-year-old woman in Dhaka, Bangladesh, had the reputation of being a loving and caring person. People knew her as a hardworking and happy young wife who wanted to help others know what she had learned about God. How shocked her family and friends were when Smita suddenly contracted an illness that claimed her life in less than a week!

 

James and his wife, a young couple in their 30’s, had a reputation similar to that of Smita. One springtime, they went to visit their friends on the West Coast of the United States. They never returned to their home in New York. While away, they were involved in a fatal automobile accident, leaving a tremendous void in the lives of their loved ones and coworkers.

 

You do not have to look far to see that evil and suffering abound today. Wars kill civilians as well as soldiers. Crime and violence victimize innocent people. Deadly accidents and crippling illnesses occur irrespective of a person’s age or status in life. Natural disasters wipe out communities indiscriminately. Prejudice and injustice are widespread. Perhaps you have personally suffered as a victim.

 

It is only natural to ask questions like these:

 

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?

  • Is God to blame for such things?

  • Are calamities random occurrences, or are they man-made?

  • Could it be Karma, that is, the result of one’s actions in a past life, that causes personal suffering?

  • If there is an almighty God, why does he not protect good people from harm?

  • Will life ever be free of evil and suffering?

 

To answer those questions, we need to understand the answer to these two basic questions: Why do bad things happen at all, and what will God do?

 

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As told by Patrick O’Kane

I WAS born in 1965 into a poor family in Northern Ireland. I grew up in County Derry during the “Troubles,” the violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants that lasted for more than 30 years. The Catholic minority felt discriminated against by the majority Protestant establishment, accusing them of gerrymandering, heavy-handed policing, and employment blacklisting, as well as unfair housing practices.

I saw injustice and inequality everywhere I looked. I lost count of the times I was beaten up, was pulled from a car and had a gun pointed at me, or was questioned and searched by police or soldiers. I felt victimized, and I thought, ‘I can either accept this, or I can fight back!’

I shared in the 1972 Bloody Sunday marches, in memory of the 14 people who were shot dead by British soldiers, and the hunger strike marches, which honored the republican prisoners who starved themselves to death in 1981. I put up banned flags and scrawled  anti-British graffiti everywhere I could. It seemed there was always another atrocity or murder of a Catholic to protest. What began as a parade or march often escalated into a full-scale riot.

While at the university, I joined student protests for the environment. I later moved to London, and there I took part in socialist marches against government policies that seemed to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the poor. I participated in trade union strikes against pay cuts, and I shared in the poll tax march in 1990, which resulted in Trafalgar Square being heavily damaged by the protesters.

Eventually, though, I became disillusioned. Rather than achieving our goals, protests often stoked the fires of hate.

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Despite noble intentions, humans cannot bring about justice and equality

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It was about this time that a friend introduced me to Jehovah’s Witnesses. They taught me from the Bible that God cares about our suffering and that he will undo all the harm ever caused by humans. (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:3, 4) Despite noble intentions, humans cannot bring about justice and equality. Not only do we need God’s direction but we also need his power to overcome the unseen forces behind the world’s problems.—Jeremiah 10:23; Ephesians 6:12.

Now I feel that my protest against injustice was like trying to straighten deck chairs on a sinking ship. It has been such a relief to learn that a time will come when there will be no injustice on this planet, when all humans are truly equal.

The Bible teaches that Jehovah God is “a lover of justice.” (Psalm 37:28) This is one reason why we can be sure that he will bring about justice in a way that man’s governments simply cannot. (Daniel 2:44) If you would like to learn more, contact Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area or visit our Web site, www.jw.org.


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Jehovah’s Witnesses, the publishers of this magazine, are politically neutral. (John 17:16; 18:36) Thus, while the following article reports on specific examples of civil unrest, it does not endorse one nation over another or take sides on any political issue.

ON December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi reached his limit. He was a 26-year-old street vendor in Tunisia who was frustrated with being unable to find a better job. He was also aware of corrupt officials’ demands for bribes. On that particular morning, inspectors confiscated Mohamed’s supply of pears, bananas, and apples. When they took his scales, he resisted; and some witnesses say that a female police officer slapped him.

Humiliated and enraged, Mohamed went to the nearby government office to complain but could not get a hearing. In front of the building, he reportedly shouted, “How do you expect me to make a living?” After dousing himself with a flammable liquid, he struck a match. He died of his burns less than three weeks later.

Mohamed Bouazizi’s desperate act resonated with people in Tunisia and beyond. Many consider his actions the trigger for an uprising that toppled the country’s regime and protests that soon spread to other Arab countries. The European Parliament awarded Bouazizi and four others the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and The Times of London named him its 2011 person of the year.

As that example shows, protest can be a powerful force. But what is behind the recent wave of protests? And are there any alternatives?

 Why the Surge in Protests?

Many protests are ignited by the following:

  • Dissatisfaction with social systems. When people believe that the local government and economy serve their needs, there is little desire to protest—people work within the existing order to address their problems. On the other hand, when people feel that these systems are corrupt and unjust and rigged in favor of a select few, conditions are ripe for social unrest.

  • A trigger. Often, an event moves people to action, to change from resignation to a belief that they must do something. Mohamed Bouazizi’s case, for example, set off mass protests in Tunisia. In India, a hunger strike against corruption by activist Anna Hazare set off protests by his supporters in 450 cities and towns.

As the Bible long ago acknowledged, we live in “a world where some people have power and others have to suffer under them.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9Good News Translation) Corruption and injustice are even more widespread today than they were back then. Indeed, people are more aware than ever before of how political and economic systems have failed them. Smartphones, the Internet, and 24-hour news broadcasts now allow events even in isolated places to trigger a response over a large area.

What have protests accomplished?

Proponents of social unrest would claim that protests have accomplished the following:

  • Provided relief for the poor. In response to so-called rent riots in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., that occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, city officials suspended evictions and arranged for some of the rioters to get work. Similar protests in New York City restored 77,000 evicted families to their homes.

  • Addressed injustices. Ultimately, the 1955/1956 boycott of city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.A., led to the overturning of laws for segregated seating in buses.

  • Stopped construction projects. In December 2011, tens of thousands of people protested the construction of a coal-fired power plant near Hong Kong because of concerns about pollution, so the project was canceled.

Although some protesters may accomplish their aims, God’s Kingdom offers a better solution

 Of course, protesters do not always get what they want. For example, leaders may crack down rather than give in to demands. Recently, the president of one Middle Eastern country stated regarding the protest movement there: “It must be hit with an iron fist,” and thousands have died in that uprising.

Even when protesters accomplish their aims, the aftermath invariably brings new problems. A man who helped depose the ruler of an African country told Time magazine about the new regime: “It was utopia that immediately descended into chaos.”

Is there a better way?

Many well-known people have felt that protesting oppressive systems is a moral imperative. For instance, the late Václav Havel, a former Czech president who spent years in prison for his human rights activities, wrote in 1985: “[The dissident] can offer, if anything, only his own skin—and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for.”

Havel’s words foreshadowed the desperate acts of Mohamed Bouazizi and others.  In one Asian country, dozens have set themselves on fire recently to protest religious and political repression. Describing the feelings behind such extreme actions, one man told Newsweek magazine: “We don’t have guns. We don’t want to harm other human beings. What else can people do?”

The Bible offers a solution to injustice, corruption, and oppression. It describes a government that God has set up in heaven that will replace the failed political and economic systems that lead to protest. A prophecy about the Ruler of this government says: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul.”—Psalm 72:12, 14.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s Kingdom is mankind’s only true hope for a peaceful world. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not engage in protests. But is the idea that a government by God could eliminate the reasons for protest unrealistic? It might seem to be. Yet, many have developed confidence in God’s rulership. Why not look into it for yourself?