They buried a WWI soldier back in March. There’s not many of them left. This one, Lazare Ponticelli, was 110 years of age. Yet some things he had never figured out. Like why he had been fighting in the first place. Or why they had, for that matter, his enemy. Of course he must have known the reasons supplied by national leaders, but how did it ever get so human….worldwide slaughter that took the lives of 14 million. “One of the paradoxes of 1914 is that in every country huge numbers of people, of all parties, creeds and blood, seem, surprisingly, to have gone willingly and happily to war,” states British historian John Roberts.
“More than anything, [Ponticelli] was appalled that he had been made to fire on people he didn’t know and to whom he, too, was a stranger. They were fathers of children. He had no quarrel with them” (The Economist, 3/22/08, italics mine)
Hermann Goering, the German Air Force leader from the next World War understood these things quite well:
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." (italics mine again)
Don’t think it’s easy to resist the "leaders of the country who determine the policy." It is these who form the backdrop of popular thinking, the unconscious elements that everyone draws from. That’s why today’s new age “follow your inner voice” philosophy is such nonsense. It works great when times are easy and fails utterly when they are hard. Nationalism has proven more than equal to the task of molding one’s “inner voice.”
In God’s new system of things on earth, when war is no more, I would worry about anyone who has shown in this system that he will blow my head off if some “leader” tells him to. Surely that was among the factors that attracted me to Jehovah’s Witnesses: their track record showed that they could not be pushed around by leaders.
In Nazi Germany their refusal to support Hitler’s totalitarian efforts led to incarceration for all that the tyrant could lay hands on. It’s well known that Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the first consigned to concentration camps, preceding the far more numerous Jews. It’s also well known that once in the camps, they were the only inmates with opportunity to get themselves out; Nazi policy was that if they renounced their faith and pledged allegiance to the regime they could go free. Only a handful took advantage of the offer.
Pressure to resist war fever was also no cakewalk in America either, especially so since perception was, and still is, that this was a necessary war, a righteous war even, and……well, what was wrong with anyone who would not rise to the occasion? But Jehovah’s Witnesses think of themselves as almost a nation unto themselves, and their first loyalty is to God, Jehovah. If German JWs had not contributed to the bloodbath, why should American JWs do so? In contrast, an American Lutheran, say, might feel obliged to go to war, since German Lutherans readily put nation before God.
The overwhelming majority of all Germans in that era were of two Christian faiths: Lutheran and Catholic. If even one of those faiths had stood up to Hitler as did Jehovah’s Witnesses, might WWII have been averted, with its 60 million or so casualties? (And critics rail against us for our blood transfusion stand, which at most has contributed toward a few hundred deaths) Is this what Revelation 18:24 means when it blames Babylon the Great, that conglomeration of unfaithful religion, for not only the blood of the prophets and the “holy ones,” but for "all those who have been slaughtered on the earth?" The slain "prophets" and "holy ones" are acts of commission, but the far more numerous third group represent a staggering act of omission…..the failure to train members in ways of peace. Jehovah’s Witnesses proved it could be done back then. They prove it yet today
Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth. Rev 18:24
More on Neutrality here