How Can I Deal With Sexual Harassment?

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual behavior​—including touching or even making comments of a sexual nature. But sometimes the line can be blurred between teasing, flirting, and sexually harassing.

Do you know the difference between them? Take our  sexual harassment quiz and find out!

Sadly, sexual harassment doesn’t always stop when you graduate from school. However, if you develop the confidence and skills you need to deal with sexual harassment now, you’ll be prepared to deal with it when you enter the workforce. And you might even stop a harasser from hurting others!

What if I’m being sexually harassed?

Sexual harassment is more likely to stop if you know what it is and how to react to it! Consider three situations and how you might deal with each one.


At work, some guys who were much older than I am kept telling me that I was beautiful and that they wished they were 30 years younger. One of them even walked up behind me and sniffed my hair!”​—Tabitha, 20.

Tabitha could think: ‘If I just ignore it and tough it out, maybe he will stop.’
Why that probably won’t help: Experts say that when victims ignore sexual harassment, it often continues and even escalates.

Try this instead: Speak up and calmly but clearly tell your harasser that you won’t tolerate his speech or behavior. “If anyone touches me inappropriately,” says 22-year-old Taryn, “I turn around and tell him not to touch me ever again. That usually catches the guy off guard.” If your harasser persists, be firm and don’t give up. When it comes to maintaining high moral standards, the Bible’s advice is: “Stand firm, mature and confident.”​—Colossians 4:​12, The New Testament in Contemporary Language.

What if the harasser threatens to harm you? In that case, don’t confront him. Escape the situation as quickly as possible, and seek the help of a trusted adult.


When I was in the sixth grade, two girls grabbed me in the hallway. One of them was a lesbian, and she wanted me to go out with her. Although I refused, they continued to harass me every day between classes. Once, they even pushed me up against a wall!”​—Victoria, 18.

Victoria could have thought: ‘If I tell anyone about this, I will be labeled as weak, and maybe no one will believe me.’
Why that thinking probably would not have helped: If you hold back from telling someone, the harasser may continue and even go on to harass others.​—Ecclesiastes 8:11.

Try this instead: Get help. Parents and teachers can give you the support you need to deal with your harasser. But what if the people you tell don’t take your complaint seriously? Try this: Every time you are harassed, write down the details. Include the date, time, and location of each incident, along with what the harasser said. Then give a copy of it to your parent or teacher. Many people treat a written complaint more seriously than a verbal one.


I was really afraid of this one boy who was on the rugby team. He was almost two meters (6.5 ft) tall, and he weighed about 135 kilograms (300 lb)! He got it into his head that he was going to ‘have me.’ He pestered me almost every day​—for a whole year. One day, we were the only people in the classroom, and he started closing in on me. I jumped up and ran out the door.”​—Julieta, 18.

Julieta could think: ‘That’s just the way boys are.’
Why that probably won’t help: Your harasser is unlikely to change his behavior if everyone thinks it’s acceptable.

Try this instead: Resist the temptation to laugh it off or to respond with a smile. Rather, make sure that your reaction​—including your facial expression​—makes it clear to your harasser what you will and will not tolerate.

 What would I do?


I don’t like being rude to people at all. So even when guys kept harassing me, I would tell them to stop​—but I wasn’t very firm, and I often smiled as I spoke to them. They thought I was flirting.”—Tabitha.
  • If you were Tabitha, how would you have dealt with those harassers? Why?
  • What may cause a harasser to think that you are flirting with him or her?


It all started with just a few sleazy comments from some boys in my physical education class. I ignored what they said for a few weeks, but it just got worse and worse. Then the boys started to sit beside me and put their arms around me. I pushed them away, but they kept it up. Finally, one of the guys handed me a piece of paper with a derogatory message. I gave it to my teacher. The boy was suspended from school. I realized that I should have gone to the teacher at the beginning!”—Sabina.
  • Why do you think that Sabina decided not to go to her teacher earlier? Do you think that she made a good decision? Why or why not?


My brother Greg was approached in the bathroom by another boy. The boy got very close to Greg and said, ‘Kiss me.’ Greg said no, but the boy wouldn’t go away. In fact, Greg had to push the boy away from him.”—Suzanne.
  • Do you think that Greg was a victim of sexual harassment? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think some boys are reluctant to speak up when they’ve been sexually harassed by another boy?
  • Do you agree with the way Greg handled the situation? What would you have done?

Sexual harassment quiz

“In middle school, boys would pull on the back of my bra and make derogatory comments​—like how much better I would feel once I had sex with them.”— Coretta.
Do you think that those boys were
  1. A Teasing?
  2. B Flirting?
  3. C Sexually harassing her?
“On the bus, a boy started saying nasty things to me and grabbing me. I smacked his hand away and told him to move. He looked at me like I was crazy.”— Candice.
What do you think that this boy was doing to Candice?
  1. A Teasing?
  2. B Flirting?
  3. C Sexually harassing her?
“Last year, a boy kept telling me that he liked me and that he wanted to go out with me, even though I constantly told him no. Sometimes, he rubbed my arm. I told him to stop, but he wouldn’t. Then, while I was tying my shoe, he smacked my rear end.”​— Bethany.
In your opinion, was this boy:
  1. A Flirting?
  2. B Teasing?
  3. C Sexually harassing her?
The correct answer to all three questions is C.
What makes sexual harassment different from flirting or teasing? “Sexual harassment is one-sided,” says a girl named Eve. “It continues even when you tell the person to stop.” Harassment is serious. Not only can it affect your grades and health but it can also lead to sexual violence.

Parents with their newborn baby Fulfilling Your Role as a Parent

Do you remember the moment when you held your newborn for the first time?
Before long, you may have felt overwhelmed, realizing that your child’s need for guidance would continue for many years. The enormity of your responsibility quickly sank in.

WHILE the role of a parent has always been challenging, it is especially so today. Why? Because the world is more complex than it was when you were a child. Some of the moral challenges children confront​—when using the Internet, for example—​did not even exist just a few decades ago.

How can you help your child to deal with the moral pitfalls of this modern world? Following are three suggestions.

1 Clearly state your values.

As children grow, they are buried in an avalanche of misinformation about morals​—some of it from their peers and much of it from the media. Such negative influences become especially evident when children enter the teen years. However, research shows that when it comes to major decisions in life, many adolescents place higher value on their parents’ viewpoints than on those of their peers.

What you can do. Parents in ancient Israel were encouraged to talk with their children frequently in order to inculcate upright values in them. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7) Do the same with your child. For example, if you live by the Bible’s moral standards, tell your child why you feel that adhering to those standards leads to the best way of life.

 2 Help your child understand consequences.

The Bible states: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) The principle of cause and effect can be observed in virtually every aspect of life. Think back to your own childhood. No doubt the most memorable lessons you learned were those in which you had to face the consequences of your actions.

What you can do. Using real-life examples, explain to your child how those who adopted a wrong course suffered or how those who did the right thing benefited. (Luke 17:31, 32; Hebrews 13:7) Also, do not shield your child from the consequences of his or her own mistakes. Suppose, for example, that your son carelessly breaks a toy belonging to another boy. You could require that your son give one of his own toys to him. Your child will not quickly forget this lesson on respecting the belongings of others.

3 Build positive traits.

A Bible proverb states: “Children show what they are by what they do; you can tell if they are honest and good.” (Proverbs 20:11, Good News Translation) As children grow, they develop a pattern of conduct that characterizes them. Sadly, some become known for their negative traits. (Psalm 58:3) But others build a solid, praiseworthy reputation. For example, the apostle Paul wrote to a congregation regarding the young man Timothy: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you.”​—Philippians 2:20.

What you can do. In addition to emphasizing consequences, as mentioned earlier, help your child think about the character traits for which he or she would like to be known. When faced with a challenge, young people can learn to make good decisions by asking themselves the following questions:
  • What type of person do I want to be?​—Colossians 3:10.
  • What would a person like that do in this situation?​—Proverbs 10:1.

The Bible contains many true-life examples of men and women whose actions defined them as being either good or bad. (1 Corinthians 10:11; James 5:10, 11) Use these examples to help your son or daughter build positive character traits.

“What a Nose!”

THAT reaction is common when people first see a male proboscis monkey with his pendulous, fleshy nose. In some males, this appendage can grow to be almost seven inches (18 cm) long​—about one quarter the animal’s body length. Because the proboscis droops over the male’s mouth and chin, he has to push it aside when he eats! If your nose were similarly proportioned, it would hang almost halfway down your chest.

Of what benefit is this nose to the male proboscis monkey? * Theories vary. Perhaps his nose radiates excess body heat or adds resonance to his voice. Or it may serve as a visual warning to other males. Indeed, the dominant male’s nose swells and turns red when he becomes angry or gets excited. Another possibility is that the nose has a role in sexual attraction, setting the female heart aflutter! Most likely, though, the proboscis fulfills more than one function, perhaps including some we know little or nothing about.

Bulging Bellies
Proboscis monkeys​—male and female—​also have a distinct potbelly. In fact, their stomach contents may amount to a quarter of their body weight. As a result, both males and females tend to look permanently pregnant! Why the bulging belly?

The proboscis monkey’s stomach, like that of a cow, is filled with a soupy mixture of vegetation and bacteria. The bacteria ferment the food and break down cellulose, as well as  certain plant toxins that would kill other animals. Thanks to their amazing digestive system, proboscis monkeys are able to thrive on leaves and the nonsweet fruits and seeds of legumes, palms, and other plants​—foods on which primates with different stomachs could not survive.

The proboscis monkey’s strong digestive system, however, has a downside. The animal has to abstain from sugary fruits, which ferment rapidly. Such sweet fruits would make the monkey’s belly bloat, perhaps even to the point of causing a painful death.

Because of their cellulose-rich diet and complex stomach, proboscis monkeys need lots of time to digest their meals. So, after a hearty breakfast, they take a siesta​—sometimes for many hours—​before eating again.

A Social Animal
Whether eating or resting, proboscis monkeys are rarely alone. Dominant males preside over harems of up to eight females and their offspring. Males born into the group are evicted when they are old enough to care for themselves. These juveniles team up with other young males, forming groups that also have one or two larger males. To the untrained eye, such groups may appear to be a harem.
Proboscis monkeys have an unusual social trait​—harems often intermingle, especially in the evenings when they gather at rivers. At such times, a male will put on a show of strength if he feels that another male is taking an interest in his females. Usually the protective male​—who may weigh about 45 pounds (20 kg)—​will lean forward on all fours with his mouth wide open and stare at his rival. “If that does not have the desired effect,” says the book Proboscis Monkeys of Borneo, “the male then suddenly and unpredictably leaps through the trees, often with a loud roar, and frequently landing on dead branches which break with a sharp crack, adding to the general uproar.” Fights do occur, but they appear to be rare.

“Not only are proboscis monkeys unusual to look at; they also make the most bizarre range of noises,” says the book quoted above. The animals grunt, honk, roar, and squeal, especially in the evening, when they gather near rivers. In the midst of this cacophony, mothers may be quietly preoccupied with feeding and grooming their bluish-faced infants. Finally, by the time dusk envelops the forest, the animals will have found comfortable spots in trees​—usually tall trees by a river—​where they settle down to sleep.

Monkeys With Webbed Feet!
Besides their nose, proboscis monkeys have another oddity​—partially webbed feet. The webbing enables the animals not only to  swim well but also to walk safely on mangrove mud. Of course, thinking of tropical mangroves, you would likely also think of crocodiles. Crocodiles abound in the proboscis monkey’s domain. How do these aquatic monkeys avoid getting eaten?
One strategy they employ is to slip silently into a river and dog-paddle across single file, barely raising a ripple. When the river is narrow, however, they have been seen to use a different strategy. They climb high up in a tree, take a running leap from a branch, perhaps 30 feet (9 m) above the water, belly flop into the river, and then swim as fast as they can across the remaining stretch of water. Even mothers carrying infants use this tactic. Sometimes an entire troop will plunge into the water and make a mad dash for the other side! Their greatest enemy, however, is not the crocodile.

An Endangered Species
Officially listed as endangered, proboscis monkeys may number just a few thousand in their native habitat, and their numbers continue to decline​—largely because of humans. The man-made causes include fire, logging, unmanaged tourism, and the clearing of forests for oil-palm plantations. Another factor is hunting. Some people kill proboscis monkeys simply for sport. Others kill them for food or for use in traditional medicine. Because the animals often sleep conspicuously in trees next to rivers, they are especially vulnerable. Indeed, in one area frequented by hunters in speedboats, the number of monkeys fell by 50 percent in five years!

Conservationists are trying to raise awareness of the animals’ plight, and proboscis monkeys are protected by law in Borneo. But will these measures suffice? Time will tell. If this creature were to disappear from the wild, what a tragedy that would be, for the proboscis monkey is a study in oddities! What is more, the animal tends to fare badly in captivity.

The proboscis monkey is, of course, just one of many creatures whose future looks grim. Countless other species have already vanished. On the positive side, God has purposed to take full control of the earth, remove the wicked, and teach his people the right way to manage their terrestrial home. (Proverbs 2:21, 22) “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,” Jehovah God promises, “because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”​—Isaiah 11:9.

Winning the War Against Obesity in the Young....

ACCORDING to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between 1980 and 2002, the number of overweight adolescents tripled and the number of overweight preteens more than doubled. Long-term increased risks associated with childhood obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer.

Childhood obesity may be related to a number of factors, including a sedentary lifestyle, advertising campaigns directed at young people, and the availability and affordability of unhealthy foods. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says: “Childhood obesity is the result of eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity.”

Children, adolescents, and adults would do well to take a close look at their eating habits. Without going to extremes, a few simple measures can make a difference. Consider, for example, a young man named Mark, who found that adjusting his eating habits brought enormous benefits to his health and well-being. “At one time I was a junk-food junkie,” Mark admits. Awake! spoke with Mark to find out how he changed.

When did your problem with food begin?
When I graduated from high school. About that time, I began eating out a lot. There were two fast-food restaurants near the place where I worked, so I ate lunch at one or the other almost every day. I found it much easier to go to a fast-food restaurant than to prepare my own lunch.

What about when you moved away from home? 
My eating habits got worse. I didn’t know how to cook, and I didn’t have much money; but my favorite fast-food restaurant was just two blocks away. Eating there seemed like the easiest and cheapest option. In addition to eating the wrong kind of food, I ate way too much food. I wasn’t satisfied with a standard fast-food  meal. I ordered more French fries, a larger soft drink, and an extra hamburger​—whatever I could afford—​in the largest size available.

What was the turning point for you?
When I was in my early 20’s, I started thinking more seriously about my health. I was overweight. I felt sluggish all the time, and I lacked self-confidence. I knew that I needed to make changes.

How did you get your eating under control?
I took a gradual approach. First, I reduced the amount of food I ate. I would tell myself, “This isn’t my last meal; I can always eat again.” At times I literally had to walk away from the dinner table. But I felt good afterward, as if I had won a victory.

Did you have to make any drastic adjustments?
Some things I gave up completely. For example, I eliminated soft drinks and drank only water. That was difficult. I loved soft drinks, and I hated water. After I drank a glass of water, I would take a couple of sips of juice, which put some flavor on my palate. After a while, water itself became more appealing.

What did you do besides eliminating unhealthy foods?
I replaced them with better options. I started with fruits​—apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and melons. I also added lean proteins to my diet, such as chicken or tuna. In time, those foods became some of my favorites. I try to eat more vegetables and less of the rest of the main course. I find that I’m less likely to overeat at mealtime if I have healthy snacks between meals. Over time, my craving for junk food has diminished.

Did you completely give up eating out? 
No, I still do go out to eat occasionally. But when I do, I control how much I eat. If the portion I’m served is too big, I ask for a take-out box. Then I put half of the meal in the box before I start eating. That way, I consume a reasonable portion instead of eating more, simply because I feel guilty about leaving food on my plate.

How have you benefited from the adjustments you have made?
I’ve lost weight, and I have more energy. I feel better about myself. Best of all, I’m happy to know that by taking care of my health, I’m honoring the God who gave me the gift of life. (Psalm 36:9) I used to think that living a healthy lifestyle would be boring. But now that I’ve started to eat right, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

What is dating?

 What is dating?

  • You regularly go out with a certain member of the opposite sex. Are you dating?
  • You and a member of the opposite sex are attracted to each other. Several times a day, you send text messages or talk to this person on the phone. Are you dating?
  • Every time you get together with your friends, you pair off with the same person of the opposite sex. Are you dating?
You most likely had no problem answering the first question. But you may have paused before responding to the second and the third. What exactly is dating?
Really, dating is any social activity in which your romantic interest is focused on one particular person and that person’s interest is focused on you.
So the answer to all three questions is yes. Whether on the phone or face-to-face, in the open or in secret, if you and a friend of the opposite sex have a special romantic understanding and communicate regularly, it’s dating.

 What is the purpose of dating?

Dating should have an honorable purpose—to help a young man and woman determine if they want to get married to each other.

Granted, some of your peers might take a casual view of dating. Perhaps they simply enjoy being with a special friend of the opposite sex, without any intention of marriage. Some might even view such a friend as little more than a trophy or an accessory to be seen with in public to boost their own self-esteem.
Often, though, such shallow relationships are short-lived. “Many young ones who date break up with each other a week or two later,” says a girl named Heather. “They come to view relationships as transitory—which in a sense prepares them for divorce rather than for marriage.”
Clearly, when you date someone, you’re affecting that person’s feelings. So be sure your intentions are honorable.—Luke 6:31.

If you date with no intention of marriage, you are acting like a child who plays with a new toy and then discards it
Think: Would you like someone to play with your feelings as if they were some child’s toy—to be picked up for a moment and then quickly abandoned? Then don’t do that to someone else! The Bible says that love “does not behave indecently.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.

A youth named Chelsea says: “Part of me wants to say that dating should be just for fun, but it’s no fun when one person is taking it seriously and the other isn’t.”
Tip: To prepare for dating and marriage, read 2 Peter 1:5-7 and pick one quality you need to work on. In a month’s time, see how much you have learned about—and improved in—that quality.

 Am I old enough to date?

  • At what age, do you think, is it appropriate for a youth to start dating?
  • Now ask one of your parents the same question.
Chances are, your answer is different from that of your parent. Or maybe not! You might be among the many youths who are wisely putting off dating until they’re old enough to know themselves better.

That’s what Danielle, 17, decided to do. She says: “Thinking back two years ago, what I would have looked for in a potential mate was so different from what I would look for now. Basically, even at this point I don’t trust myself to make such a decision. When I feel that my personality has been stable for a couple of years, then I’ll think about dating.”

There’s another reason why waiting is wise. The Bible uses the phrase “the bloom of youth” to describe the period of life when sexual feelings and romantic emotions first become strong. (1 Corinthians 7:36) To maintain close association with one particular member of the opposite sex while you’re still in this phase can fan the flames of desire and lead to wrong conduct.

True, that might mean little to your peers. Many of them may be all too eager to experiment with sex. But you can​—you must—​rise above that kind of thinking! (Romans 12:2) After all, the Bible urges you to “flee from sexual immorality.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, New International Version) By waiting until you’re past the bloom of youth, you can “ward off calamity.”—Ecclesiastes 11:10.

 Why wait to date?

Being pressured to date before you’re ready would be like being forced to take a final exam for a course that you’ve barely started. Obviously, that wouldn’t be fair! You need time to study your subject so that you can become familiar with the kind of problems you’ll face in the test.
It’s similar with dating.

Dating is no trivial matter. So before you’re ready to focus on one particular person, you need to take time to study a very important “subject”—how to build friendships.

Later, when you meet the right person, you’ll be in a better position to build a solid relationship. After all, a good marriage is the union of two good friends.

Waiting to date won’t stifle your freedom. On the contrary, it will give you more freedom to ‘rejoice in your youth.’ (Ecclesiastes 11:9) You will also have time to prepare yourself by developing your personality and, most important, your spirituality.—Lamentations 3:27.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the company of the opposite sex. What’s the best way to do so? Spend time together in properly supervised mixed groups. A girl named Tammy says: “I think it’s more fun that way. It’s better to have a lot of friends.” Monica agrees. “The group idea is a really good idea,” she says, “because you get to associate with people who have different personalities.”

In contrast, if you focus on one person too soon, you set yourself up for heartache. So take your time. Use this period of your life to learn how to cultivate and maintain friendships. Later, if you choose to date, you’ll have a better idea of who you are and what you need in a lifelong partner.

The Common Loon—A Bird to Be Heard

THE eerie wail of the common loon is a sound few people forget.  Conveying the solitude of the wilderness, the cry can be heard at remote freshwater lakes and rivers in Canada, Europe, and the northern United States.

A handsome waterbird, the loon is the state bird of Minnesota, U.S.A., and it appears on Canada’s dollar coin​—the loonie. The bird is migratory, however, and winters mostly in coastal areas farther south. What makes the common loon a bird to be heard?

Wails, Hoots, Tremolos, and Yodels

Loons have some impressive vocalizations. Their haunting wail is heard in the evening or at night and carries for miles. A less intense call is the hoot, which is used to keep in touch with mates, chicks, and other loons on the same lake. The tremolo is an alarm signal. Described as “insane laughter,” the tremolo is the only call that loons make in flight.

The yodel is a male-only call and “seems to be associated with territorial defense,” says the journal BirdWatch Canada. “Each male has his own characteristic yodel,” and “the heavier the loon, the lower the pitch.” Moreover, when a male “changes territory, he changes his yodel,” and “it makes its yodel as different as possible from that of the previous resident,” the journal states.

Attractive, Adroit, and Awkward

The loon has a very dark, almost black, iridescent-green head, with red eyes and a long, pointed black bill. Its general plumage changes according to the season.
Having large webbed feet, loons are efficient predators, powerful swimmers, and adroit divers. In fact, they may dive as deep  as 200 feet (60 m), occasionally staying submerged for several minutes at a time!

The loon’s takeoffs and landings, however, are not its strong points! Because of its weight, the bird needs a “runway” to get airborne, and it may flap and run along the water for hundreds of yards (m) before taking off. Hence, loons prefer large bodies of water. When landing, the loon comes in at high speed with legs stretched out behind, as though its “undercarriage” had failed. It then hits the water on its belly and skims along until coming to a stop.

Although well-suited for swimming, the loon’s big webbed feet and their location way back on its body make walking​—and even standing—​awkward. Hence, loons build their nests where they can easily slip into the water.

Both parents take turns incubating the eggs (usually two), which are olive colored and camouflaged with dark spots. They hatch after an average of 29 days. When they are two days old, the chicks can swim and even make short dives. When they need to rest, they simply hitch a ride on a parent’s back. After two or three months, when the young are able to fly, they leave their parents.

The loon’s enemies include eagles, gulls, raccoons, and​—worst of all—​humans. Lead fishing weights and oil spills poison the birds. Chemical pollution from acid rain reduces the fish stocks on which loons depend. Waves from moving boats swamp their nests. And lakeshore development sends the reclusive loon away from its breeding habitat.

That said, the loon population remains healthy. Hence, this dashingly handsome bird with its inimitable calls and amusing ways should enchant bird lovers for many years to come.

“Observe Intently the Birds”

BIRDS inhabit all parts of the earth, and they are among the easiest creatures to observe. What is more, their variety in form, color, song, antics, and habits can make bird-watching, or birding, an entertaining and rewarding pastime.

You may even be able to observe a bird’s daily routine from your kitchen window: a European blackbird digging for worms, a tyrant flycatcher hawking for insects, a dove courting its mate, a swallow tirelessly constructing its nest, or a goldfinch feeding its hungry brood.

Some birds will impress you—such as eagles, falcons, and hawks—as they patrol the skies. Others may amuse you: sparrows squabbling over a tidbit, a male pigeon puffing out its breast to impress a seemingly indifferent female, or a group of squawking rose-pink and gray galahs hanging upside down on a swaying power line as a result of losing their balance. And some sightings will thrill you, such as the overhead passage of migrating storks, cranes, or geese. Indeed, such migrations have been observed for thousands of  years, leaving viewers in awe of the ability of birds to navigate great distances with clocklike precision. In fact, the Creator himself said: “The stork in the sky knows its seasons; the turtledove and the swift and the thrush keep to the time of their return.”—Jeremiah 8:7.

Observing the Birds in Bible Times

The Bible makes many references to birds, often to teach valuable lessons. For example, concerning the ostrich and its incredible speed, God said to a man named Job: “When she rises up and flaps her wings, she laughs at the horse and at its rider.” (Job 39:13, 18) God also asked Job: “Is it by your understanding that the falcon soars, . . . or is it at your order that an eagle flies upward?” (Job 39:26, 27) The lesson? Birds perform their feats without any help from us. Their abilities testify to God’s wisdom, not ours.

King Solomon wrote of “the song of the turtledove,” which heralds the arrival of spring. (Song of Solomon 2:12) A psalmist mentioned the swallow when he was writing about his yearning to serve in God’s temple. With a touch of envy, he said: “Even the bird finds a home there and the swallow a nest for herself, where she cares for her young near your grand altar, O Jehovah.”—Psalm 84:1-3.

Some of the most beautiful references to birds were made by Jesus Christ. Consider these words found at Matthew 6:26: “Observe intently the birds of heaven; they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are?” That touching illustration reassures Jesus’ followers that they are precious to God and need never be anxious about obtaining life’s necessities.—Matthew 6:31-33.

Today, bird-watching is a popular recreational activity—and understandably so, for birds amaze us with their antics, beauty, courtship rituals, and songs. What is more, they can also teach the thoughtful observer valuable lessons about life. Will you “observe intently the birds”?

The Amazing Arctic Tern

IT WAS long believed that arctic terns flew about 22,000 miles (35,200 km) on their journey from the Arctic region to Antarctica and back. Recent studies, however, revealed that the birds actually fly much farther.

Tiny instruments called geolocators were attached to a number of birds. About the weight of a paper clip, these amazing devices revealed that some terns flew an average of 56,000 miles (90,000 km) on the round-trip​—the longest animal migration known. One bird flew nearly 60,000 miles (96,000 km)! Why the revised estimates?

No matter where they began their migration, the arctic terns flew an indirect route. As shown in the illustration, a common Atlantic Ocean route took an S shape. The reason? The birds simply take advantage of prevailing wind systems.
During their lifetime of about 30 years, terns may travel well over 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km). That is equal to three or four round-trips to the moon! 

“This is a mind-boggling achievement for a bird of just over 100 grams [3.5 ounces],” said a researcher. What is more, because arctic terns experience the summers at both poles, they see “more daylight each year than any other creature,” states the book Life on Earth: A Natural History.

How Can I Prevent Burnout?

Why it happens

  • Overload. “In all areas of life,” says a young woman named Julie, “we are told to keep doing better, to keep improving ourselves, to keep setting higher goals and achieving better results. Being under this constant pressure is difficult!”

  • Technology. With smart phones, tablets, and other devices, we are “on” and available nearly 24/7​—a fact that can make us stressed-out and, over time, burned-out.

  • Lack of sleep. “Between school, work, and recreation, many young people wake up early and stay up late, caught in a vicious circle,” says a young woman named Miranda. That pattern often leads to burnout.

 Why it matters

The Bible praises industriousness. (Proverbs 6:​6-8; Romans 12:11) But it does not endorse working to the extent that everything else in life suffers​—including your health.

“At one point, I realized that I hadn’t eaten for an entire day because I was so focused on the many responsibilities I had taken on. I learned that it’s not good to be too eager to accept every assignment​—not at the expense of my well-being.”​—Ashley.
For good reason, the Bible says: “A live dog is better off than a dead lion.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4) Pushing yourself might make you think you have lionlike strength​—at least for a while. But burning yourself out can have devastating consequences to your health.

 What you can do

  • Learn to say no. The Bible says: “Wisdom is with the modest ones.” (Proverbs 11:2) Modest people know their limitations and don’t take on more than they can handle.
    “A prime candidate for burnout is someone who can’t say no, someone who tries to take on every task that is offered to him. That isn’t being modest. And sooner or later, it leads to burnout.”​—Jordan.
  • Get sufficient rest. The Bible says: “Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6) Sleep has been called “food for the brain,” but most teenagers aren’t getting the eight to ten hours per night that they need.
    “When my schedule was at its craziest, I had the tendency not to get enough sleep. But sometimes that extra hour of sleep is just what I need for increased productivity and happiness the next day.”​—Brooklyn.
  • Get organized. The Bible says: “The plans of the diligent surely lead to success.” (Proverbs 21:5) Learning to manage your time and activity level is a skill that will serve you well all through your life.
    “Much self-imposed stress can be avoided by using a planner. When your schedule is laid out in front of you, it’s easier to identify where you can make adjustments to help you avoid burnout.”​

What Is the Best Gift of All?

“Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights.” (James 1:17) That scripture, of course, refers to the generosity of our heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Yet, of the many gifts that God has given mankind, there is one that is greater than all the rest. What is it? Jesus’ well-known words, recorded at John 3:16, tell us: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”

The gift of God’s only-begotten Son​—that would certainly be the greatest gift that any one of us could ever receive, for thereby we can be freed from the bondage to sin, old age, and death. (Psalm 51:5; John 8:34) Try as we may, on our own there is nothing we can do to be released from that bondage. However, in his great love, God provided what is needed to bring about that release. By giving his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as the ransom, Jehovah God gave obedient mankind the prospect of life everlasting. But what exactly is the ransom? Why is it necessary? And how can we benefit from it?

A ransom is a price paid to buy back something forfeited or to bring about release from bondage. The Bible explains that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created sinless, with the prospect of enjoying life forever on a paradise earth along with the offspring they would later produce. (Genesis 1:26-28) Sadly, they forfeited all of that by choosing to disobey God​—thus becoming sinners. What was the result? The Bible answers: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Instead of passing on perfect life to his offspring, Adam passed on sin and its consequence, death.

In the case of a ransom, what is paid must be equal to what was lost. When Adam deliberately disobeyed God, he sinned, and the result was the loss of a perfect human life​—Adam’s life. According to the Bible, that caused Adam’s offspring to become enslaved to sin and death. Hence, it took the surrendering of another perfect human life​—Jesus’ life—​given as a sacrifice to make release from bondage possible. (Romans 5:19; Ephesians 1:7) It is only because God lovingly paid this ransom that mankind has the prospect of enjoying what Adam and Eve lost​—life forever on a paradise earth.​—Revelation 21:3-5.

In view of what it accomplishes, there is no doubt that God’s gift of the ransom, which makes everlasting life possible, is the greatest gift of all. To appreciate what a “perfect present” it is, let us see how, in surpassing ways, it satisfies the factors that help us to make gifts worthwhile, as discussed in the preceding article.

Satisfies our desire. We humans have a strong innate desire to keep on living. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Although on our own we are unable to satisfy that  desire, the ransom makes it possible for us to do so. The Bible says: “For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”​—Romans 6:23.

Fills our need. Humans could not provide the ransom. The Bible explains: “The ransom price for their life is so precious that it is always beyond their reach.” (Psalm 49:8) Therefore, we were in desperate need of divine assistance in order to be released from bondage to sin and death. But “through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus,” God has provided just what is needed.​—Romans 3:23, 24.

Is perfectly timed. The Bible tells us: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Because it was given “while we were yet sinners,” the ransom provides assurance of the depth of God’s love for us despite our sinful state. And it gives us much to look forward to, even though we have to endure the consequences of sin.

Reveals a motive noble and selfless. The Bible points out what moved God to offer his Son as the ransom: “By this the love of God was revealed in our case, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.”​—1 John 4:9, 10.

How can you show that you appreciate the greatest gift of all? Recall that Jesus’ words at John 3:16 point out that only those “exercising faith” in him will be saved. Faith, according to the Bible, is “the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” (Hebrews 11:1) To have that assurance, accurate knowledge is essential. For this reason, we urge you to take time to learn about Jehovah God, the Giver of this “perfect present,” and to find out what you must do to enjoy the everlasting life that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice has made possible for you.

You can learn all of this by examining the Scriptural information available online at Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to help you. We are confident that as you learn about and benefit from this greatest gift, you will be moved to exclaim: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”​—Romans 7:25.