|Volume 18 Number 4 April 2016||
How often have you “put your foot in your mouth”? Too often we speak hastily. I have said before that “I’m ambidextrous – I can put either foot in my mouth.” The oft spoken parental proverb says, “Put brain in gear, before engaging mouth.” The Bible has this admonition on the subject: “But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
Listening is a skill that needs to be developed by exercise. Attentiveness and concentration are needed ingredients for being a good listener. Not too many years ago, it was expected that children respectfully remain mostly silent while adults were speaking. Children were encouraged to learn to listen and to develop restraint. Unfortunately, we live in a time when personal responsibility has been largely rejected or at least minimized. The hugely popular diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is disturbing, but not surprising. Popular media and merchandise marketing strategies all push in unison for people to “follow their impulses.” We are told in varying ways: “You deserve happiness, so grab what you want.” Such self-centeredness is an enemy of self restraint. Such a focus upon self does not promote patience in listening to others.
Listen to what is found at Encyclopedia.com. “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not a clinically definable illness or disease. Rather, as of December 2003, ADHD is a diagnosis that is made for children and adults who display certain behaviors over an extended period of time. The most common of these behavioral criteria are inattention, hyperactivity, and marked impulsiveness.” Our intent is not to discredit all such diagnoses but to raise legitimate concern. Is it any wonder that children are acting similar to what they see in adults? We all are being conditioned to act on impulse. If a multitude of influences bombard us to act impulsively, then speaking impulsively is to be expected.
If couples develop the habit of yelling at each other, should we label it a “disorder” and coin an acronym for it? How about “CDD (Communication Deficit Disorder)”? It would not be a clinically definable illness or disease, but could be a diagnosis made for children and adults who display yelling behavior over an extended period of time.
Those who choose to exercise self-restraint will pause and take time to listen with attentiveness to others. There is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” said Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3:7). “In the multitude of words there wanteth not transgression; But he that refraineth his lips doeth wisely” (Proverbs 10:19). What listening skills do you have?
The Twilight Zone
Donald R. Fox
Rod Sterling’s seminal anthology series focused on ordinary folks who suddenly found themselves in extraordinary, usually supernatural, situations. The stories would typically end with an ironic twist that would see the guilty punished. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052520/)
For those of us who are old enough to remember “The Twilight Zone,” we also acknowledge that many times we feel like we are literally living in this zone. Of course, all eras seem anarchist at times. Charles Dickens, in his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, summarized this feeling in his beginning line.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
As we dwell on this subject, another expression comes to mind: topsy-turvy. Topsy-turvy can be described as, “In or into a state of utter disorder or confusion: turning our ordered life topsy-turvy” (Anne Tyler). Further, this confusion can be helter-skelter and upside down. We can get mixed up just trying to define this state of “top downward and the bottom up.”
A few examples will suffice for this essay. My generation has a very hard time accepting such things as present dress codes, or the lack thereof. Most, if not all musicians, when they perform have an unshaven, unruly, long hair look. Their clothes are awfully casual. The reason, maybe, is to show off their tattoos. To be honest, with the majority of current music, I can’t distinguish any melody or tune. I have always said if you can’t hum the music or tune, it isn’t music. Have you tried humming RAP music? The lyrics are also difficult to understand. However, the younger folks are giving voice to the words as the band performs.
There has always been a generation gap. The gap is wider than ever. When it comes to moral issues, there has been a steady understanding since the founding of our nation. Even music and general show business have been consistent with early national values for many generations. Yes, we older folks are topsy-turvy and wondering if we have entered the twilight zone.
The moral or ethical changes within our society are immediately recognizable. The campaign to alter our nation from a God-fearing country to a secular one has gained much ground. The evidence in this secularization is beyond disclaiming. On our money is engraved “In God We Trust.” This motto highlights our national heritage. With that truth, we are grieving because of the many and recent governmental decisions that have brought on ungodly changes. We can live with shallow changes such as music. However, when it comes to a denial of God-given morality, Christians must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Even in a state of disorder and confusion, Christians can assert contentment.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:9-13 KJV)
[Editor’s Note: There has always been a disconnect between the children of God and the general population (1 Peter 2:12; 3:16). Remember, only eight souls boarded Noah’s ark. That was the result of the children of God failing to distinguish themselves regarding godliness from the wicked people around them (Genesis 6:2). Both testaments of the Bible warn about the corrupting influence of the ungodly upon the godly (Deuteronomy 7:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:33). Yet, we must live in the world while not becoming of the world in a spiritual sense (John 15:19; 17:14-16). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]