The year ahead: The world faces a perilous moment
As the past year was ending, Oliver Wiseman of The Spectator pointed out: “From Ukraine to Taiwan, from Iran’s nuclear proliferation to a burgeoning shadow war in space, the nature of threats to America are changing. And one cannot but feel that all of this is approaching an uncomfortable pinch point . . . That the president will be forced into a choice between major action and a humiliating admission of powerlessness” (“A Perilous Moment for America—and Biden,” The Spectator World, Dec. 7).
“Most worrying of all,” he continued, “is the way in which the perception of vulnerability can become self-fulfilling. This, belligerent powers may conclude, is the time to act.”
And he went on to say: “Every now and then, one can almost feel history happening. The footage of an Afghan tumbling from the sky as he lost his grip on a US airplane departing Kabul in August was one such moment . . . A page had been turned. You cannot help but feel that we are at an epochal moment. And you cannot shake the doubts about US leaders’ ability to meet that moment.”
In this issue’s Current Events & Trends items, we consider some challenges for the year ahead.
Looming military threats from Russia, China and Iran
The Afghanistan disaster, ongoing concerns over the Biden administration’s foreign policy acumen and the American military’s new focus on diversity and countering supposed climate change and “white rage” raise serious questions about the ability to handle rising threats abroad. This is especially so in the face of escalating tensions with Russia, China and Iran. Says Gerald Seib in The Wall Street Journal: “Any one of these standoffs has the potential to shake the world order and produce wider conflict. Taken together, they signal that the U.S. and its allies are at a dangerous moment—perhaps more dangerous than many Americans realize” (“Three Potential Crises Unfold on the World Stage,” Dec. 6, 2021).
As of mid-December, the most immediate concern is the possibility of Russia invading Ukraine. Vladimir Putin has aimed at restoring the glory of Russia’s empire, and he looks at Ukraine as part of the borderland with traditional enemies in Europe. The idea of Ukraine being incorporated into Europe and even the NATO alliance is anathema in his and other Russian leaders’ eyes. Putin has certainly been emboldened by his earlier annexation of Crimea from Ukraine during the Obama-Biden administration—and now we have the Afghanistan fallout.
“The Chinese threat to Taiwan appears to be on a longer and slower track, but it is no less serious,” Seib points out. To better understand the conflict here, read “The United States and China: Destined for War?” in the November-December 2021 issue of Beyond Today. Sadly, many in U.S. federal and state governments and corporate sectors and media are heavily compromised with financial entanglements with this growing world power.
More alarming still is the new cooperation between traditional enemies Russia and China. Past U.S. policy has been to keep them from being friendlier to one another than to the West—balancing them against one another. But new U.S. administration policies and rhetoric have been driving these powers together—along with the third recognized threat of Iran.
“For its part,” Seib comments, “Iran’s belligerent stand in negotiations in recent days, combined with stepped-up uranium enrichment, suggests it is determined to at least reach the threshold of acquiring a nuclear weapon. The U.S. might even decide it has to accept that—though Israel likely wouldn’t, which means the chances of hostilities are growing daily.” Iran’s extremist leaders have been pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of not only increased prestige and influence but actually using them to bring about Islamic end-time expectations. They have also desired to use nukes or other means to disable America’s electrical and electronic infrastructure through electromagnetic pulse, as we have written about before.
And that threat is not exclusively from Iran, but also rests with China, North Korea and Russia.
Marxist tyranny expands
The entire world is in the increasing grip of tyranny. From strict Covid rules that go far beyond science to attempts to restructure society as a whole in the name of economic and racial justice and saving the planet from the claimed looming menace of climate change, government overreach in regulating people’s lives is happening on a scale never before seen in the modern world.
A process of indoctrination in Western society has for a long while now been pulling people further from traditional biblical values
toward progressive liberal and outright socialist ideology—and it is now in full bloom.
Justice and righting past wrongs are used as excuses to implement what used to be recognized as blatantly evil. The promotion of critical race theory has not healed hurts but has rather inflamed old wounds and stirred up new animosity by finding racism around every corner and judging everything on the basis of skin color rather than, as Martin Luther King Jr. called for, the content of our character.
Parents in the United States vocally objecting in school board meetings to the sexual immorality and distorted worldview being taught to or put before their children were shockingly tagged by the federal justice department as insurrectionists and domestic terrorists.
Yet at the same time, the same justice department and other progressive politicians are promoting a massive influx of illegal immigration and allowing serious crimes to go unchecked and unpunished, with criminals being released and local law enforcement being called on to stand down or even disband. Confusion and rage abound—and the division at every level stokes class warfare. Of course, it’s not just in America. The entire Western world is experiencing this same assault. And it will yet grow worse.
Policies that crush the poor
The prophet Amos decried those “who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,” or “who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fail” (Amos 4:1 Amos 4:1Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
American King James Version×; 8:4). It’s often imagined that the references here are simply to wealthy people as takers and government officials who neglect to institute huge social welfare programs. Those who push massive taxes on the wealthy, big government spending and welfare programs say they are helping the poor—and many may even believe this. But this is not reality.
If the wealthy are taxed exorbitantly, they will not be able to hire and pay workers—hurting the poorer people who need jobs to earn a living. The massive government debt spending we’re seeing advocated today to supposedly help infrastructure and the environment ends up crushing the poor. Much of the money is pocketed by special interests, paying off favors. The vast creation of currency out of thin air, along with government shutdowns, makes the prices of goods go up as more dollars chase fewer items. The cutting off of self-sufficiency in fossil fuels further drives up heating oil and fuel prices, making the price of transported goods—which includes virtually everything—go up even more, and not just to stores but to and from manufacturing plants. The cost of everything we buy goes sky high.
Demands that everyone be vaccinated or lose jobs, which happened on a large scale before courts intervened, caused many to be without pay and many others to not have the goods and services those out of work had been facilitating—or to have them at higher cost. The result is fewer people working when things cost more.
Who is hurt by all of this? It’s not so much wealthy individuals and large companies, who have a significant cushion and make money from investments. These are better able to weather such times and even still profit in many cases—sometimes making out exceedingly well due to government and corporate collusion. No, it’s the poor and middle class who suffer. It’s people who live paycheck to paycheck. These people are devastated by the policies that are supposedly being put in place to help them. It is all a huge lie.
The way for government to help the poor is through guaranteeing open opportunity and equality under the law and promoting charity instead of tax-and-spend redistribution. Moreover, the government should live within its means rather than making debt slaves of following generations. Some will label these mere political matters that Christians should have no concern over. Yet they are clearly moral issues concerning theft versus providing for the needy. The Bible has much to say about such evils.
Western culture war rages on—how will it end?
Societal transformation marches on in America and throughout the Western world. Sadly, the number of U.S. homes with a traditional nuclear family of husband and wife and kids fell to a record low in 2021—17.8 percent of homes, down from 18.6 percent the previous year (and down from 40 percent in 1970) (Bloomberg News, Dec. 3, 2021).
Along with this news comes the disturbing report that a new study by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, directed by George Barna, has found that over 30 percent of U.S. Millennials, basically those now in their 20s and 30s, now identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning). That’s up from 8.4 percent in 2018 and thus a giant increase in just three years. Barna told Newsweek that the increase is particularly driven by social and news media coverage pushing LGBTQ as “safe and cool.”
Other revealing statistics from this report are that 29 percent of young Millennials (18-24) were counted as having a mental disorder, less than a third of Millennials say they believe in God, and 75 percent say they lack meaning and purpose in life. Nearly half (48 percent) say they prefer socialism over capitalism. Of course, these things all go together. (See Millennials in America, October 2021; “Nearly 40 Percent of U.S. Gen Zs, 30 Percent of Young Christians Identify as LGBTQ, Poll Shows,” Newsweek, Oct. 20, 2021.)
The American Medical Association, the country’s largest group of physicians, came out with a recommendation this past year that birth certificates stop listing male or female, as it “fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity,” noting that “participation by the medical profession and the government in assigning sex is often used as evidence supporting this binary view,” leading to “marginalization and minoritization.”
Thankfully there are many who still stand opposed to such trends—particularly against the terrible scourge of abortion. A case was recently brought before the U.S. Supreme Court that could lead to the overturning of or restrictions on the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. Let us pray for that. Yet the state of California announced not long after that if this were to happen, it would act as a sanctuary state for keeping abortion legal and would even sickeningly pay people to come there for abortions.
Later this year will see U.S. midterm elections that, by poll indications, could help hold back some of the cultural onslaught for a while. But sad to say, the track record on the progress of immorality with changing political parties is often two steps forward and one step back (or no stepping back)—it keeps advancing regardless of which political party is in power. A great many politicians embrace the LGBTQ agenda and other progressive policies, regardless of party affiliation.
The fact is, our society is getting worse and worse. But evil will not win in the end. There is an end in sight—through the good news of Jesus Christ returning to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. May God guide you until that wonderful day!