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The Century's Biggest Killer

This century in the life of our world has been certainly one of the most fascinating in history and parts of it have been observed by each of us. I’m sure we will agree that there are many aspects of life in this century here on our troubled planet which bear examination and from which tremendous lessons can be learned. One of them is pointed up in an article in the Wall Street Journal which is entitled “War Isn’t This Century’s Biggest Killer”. In it R. J. Rummel says, “Our century is noted for it’s bloody wars. World War I saw 9 million people killed in battle, an incredible record that was surpassed within a few decades by the 15 million battle deaths in World War II. Even the numbers killed in the twentieth century revolutions and civil wars have set historical records. In total, about 36,654,000 have died in this century’s international and domestic wars, revolutions and violent conflicts.”

Now comes the astonishing part of this. The article continues saying, “Yet, even more unbelievable than these vast numbers killed in war is a shocking fact. The number of people killed by totalitarian or extreme authoritarian governments already far exceeds that for all wars, civil and international. Indeed this number already far exceeds that for all wars, civil and international. Indeed this number already approximates the number that might be killed in a nuclear war.”

Now the astonishing part of it is that there has been another activity that has killed more people than war and that is the deliberate killing of people, individual by individual by totalitarian governments. Rummel points out that the Communists have killed 95.2 million people with other non-free dictatorships killing 20.3 million of their own people. Partially-free governments have killed 3.1 million people whereas free governments are responsible for the deaths of only 0.8 million people in this century.

Then the writer draws the conclusion that “absolutist governments are not only many times deadlier than war, but are themselves the major factor causing war and other forms of violent conflicts. They are a major cause of militarism. Indeed, absolutism, not war, is mankind’s deadliest scourge of all.”

Then the write suggests “In the light of all this, the peaceful, non-violent fostering of civil liberties and political rights must be made mankind’s highest humanitarian goal. Not simply to give the greatest number, the greatest happiness, not simply to obey the moral imperative of individual rights, but because freedom preserves peace and life.”

Now I think that every one of us may well make a mental note of that conclusion that “freedom preserves peace and life.” What a contrast totalitarianism is to all of this. The dictator, and especially by far the Communist dictator, is the sower, the perpetuator for death and destruction in the most astonishing measure ever known to mankind. When a mere human being is able to take to himself absolute power and then execute that absolute power in the name of some kind of an ideology, the evidence is that millions die. Freedom is what preserves peace and life.

And why is this the case? It’s the case because that’s the way God made the world. The individual in this world is made in the image of God and it is that image of God in the lives of human beings which is the true life force of the world. When that life force is suppressed, inhibited, imprisoned and then destroyed, we can be very sure that society as such will grind to a halt and destroy itself in the process.

To allow the individual to be as free as possible is then an activity on the part of government which most respects man’s divine origin, he is created by God. The government that forgets this is really being found to fight against God, an activity in which only dictators, atheists and other fools believe they can succeed.