Recently I had the opportunity to officiate at my eldest son’s wedding.
Being still in deep recovery from recent congestive heart failure, God gave me the strength to stand in for the father of the radiant bride, then lead her down the aisle and conduct the wedding ceremony. It was a delightful and very memorable occasion.
Conscious of our family’s Scottish heritage, the bride and groom had arranged for a champion piper to play selected tunes through the wedding.
As the recessional, they chose You’re the Voice. The piper rendered a fine performance of that tune for the occasion.
I just went back over the lyrics of that song, made famous 20 years ago as a smash hit by the English-Australian popular singer John Farnham. I wanted to discover just what it was that had such appeal in that song to such a wide audience and still has today.
It is very obvious. Within those lyrics is expressed a deep-seated longing for a cessation of war, for the opportunity to extend peace among humanity.
The appeal is made personal by the song directing its message in a very personal way to the listener.
Farnham sings, “You’re all someone’s daughter, you’re all someone’s son.” The message of the song is thus dual—an appeal to the current generation, and to their parents.
But it’s the next line that poses the burning question that the youth of the modern world have lived with increasingly since the Great War, World War i.
The singer cries out, “How long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?”
That’s a powerful question that this world seems utterly incapable of answering in any positive way.
According to the Peace Pledge Union in London, “Since the end of the Second World War in 1945 there have been some 250 major wars in which over 50 million people have been killed, tens of millions made homeless, and countless millions injured and bereaved.
“In the history of warfare the 20th century stands out as the bloodiest and most brutal—three times more people have been killed in wars in the last 90 years than in all the previous 500.”
The cannon fodder for all this carnage has been “someone’s daughter … someone’s son.”
The saddest fact about Farnham’s most famous hit song, and those of its genre—the protest songs of the 1960s and ’70s come to mind—is the vain hope they expressed to the youth of the day.
By way of example, the song You’re the Voice asserts the bright hopes of the generation for which it was written:
We have the chance to turn the pages over;
We can write what we want to write;
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older.
So what happened to that chance for social and economic renewal that this song and dozens like it promised a whole generation?
The youth of the early 1980s are the middle-aged parents of today. As to making “ends meet,” they find themselves enmeshed in a great global economic crisis. The choice to “write what we want to write” has resulted in legislation that has confused gender roles, resulted in the slaughtering of countless millions of little lives in vitro, and largely neutered both language and societal norms of their clarity, introducing a host of politically correct social practices that are gnawing away at the very heart of our moral foundation.
The song promised change for the better:
This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful,
Believing we can make it better.
That chance for a generation to “make it better” came and went, not for the better. The chance to “stand together” faded. The “power to be powerful” never materialized.
How disheartening for that generation that sang, “We’re not gonna sit in silence, we’re not gonna live with fear,” to see their bright hopes for a voice for a better future squashed by the petty politics of the squabbling leaders of the day. Leaders who have promoted immigration policies that have led to the ghettoing of certain suburbs into even no-go areas to the police, as racial and religious hatred has been increasingly imported into our once settled Anglo-Saxon culture.
The longing for change for the better, for a cessation of war, for humans to live in brotherly harmony together, is as old as civilization itself. The Utopianists in our midst continue in the vain hope that they can bring peace by appeasement, by an appeal to the “better side” of human nature. Six thousand years of history have proven that a vain dream.
The realists, on the other hand, admitting that human nature is corrupt at its core, seek the best compromise within which to balance the demands of competing self-interest groups, with little effective result in advancing the cause of peace.
As Herbert Armstrong continually taught, the only way humankind will ever learn the way to peace is to submit to the rule of a power possessing a nature the very opposite to that of humanity at large—the government of their very own Creator! But that’s the very thing that humankind refuses to do!
“But why should it be imaginary or impossible? Why shouldn’t we have peace on Earth, with universal prosperity, good health, right education, abundant well-being for everybody?” Mr. Armstrong wrote in 1982.
“True, we do say it actually will require this ‘strong hand from someplace’ to solve the world’s troubles and bring us peace. Then the critic will ask, ‘Aren’t you saying it is impossible for humanity to solve our problems?’ No! We don’t say it is impossible—we say humanity is not willing— humanity REFUSES. It is impossible only because humanity rejects the way to peace, prosperity and all the good things—only because humanity refuses” (Plain Truth, April 1982).
That’s the reason that each generation, regardless of their motivation to seek peace, still, and even increasingly, “look at each other down the barrel of a gun”!
That’s the reason the power to bring peace on Earth is denied mankind. It’s the very reason why man is denied the opportunity to “all … stand together, with the power to be powerful,” always believing, yet utterly unable to “make it better.”
My children grew up as youths singing along with John Farnham the lyrics to You’re the Voice. But they grew up with a sense of reality. They knew that the words of the song were words sung in vain, for they had embedded in their minds from their earliest years a far better vision. The very vision that Jesus Christ, Son of God, Prince of Peace, had come to declare to mankind so long ago.
They have now produced another generation having the same vision, and are able to demonstrate the very imminence of the fulfillment of that vision through the prophecies that current events so obviously prove are being fulfilled at this hour. They are part of a wonderful peer group, worldwide, that shares that vision, a vision of reality that gives them tremendous confidence in their future.
I am privileged to be a faculty member at a unique institution. It’s a college that teaches this vision of reality that the youth of today can have the power to change the world for the better. The “chance to turn the pages over,” to “write what we want to write” because it will be from a common perspective of the vision for peace revealed by their Maker.
The students at Herbert W. Armstrong College do not “sit in silence” nor “live with fear.” Their faces are radiant with the glow of confidence that comes from having implicit faith in the God of the universe to enact His will. And they are overjoyed to be used as His servants in helping to do so.
When one experiences such a phenomenon as those of us do who serve on the faculty of Herbert W. Armstrong College, the only real pain is in the realization that so few get to experience it.
But that pain is going to be short lived. For the very Creator declares of all humanity that the time will come when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). That time is rapidly approaching. A time when all men will be educated in the way to peace, and their sons and daughters will no longer look at each other down the barrel of a gun!
That’s the vision we teach at Herbert W. Armstrong College. It’s the only true vision of hope for a humanity that seems to be hell-bent on the way to its self-destruction.
If you want to read more about this grand vision for the future of mankind, read our booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow. It will open up new vistas to you and your sons and daughters. Vistas of peace and plenty, of true godly love human to human, and of the God-given power to truly “turn the pages” to a new and unsurpassably brilliant future for all mankind. ▪