Monthly Archives: October 2015

Know When to Shut Up

ShhhMy oldest daughter bought me a shirt that has these words written in bold, black letters on the chest, “Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion.”  I doubt that she meant it as one of the things that she admires most about her dad.  I readily admit that I have an opinion about everything that I consider consequential and it has taken me many years to learn to express those opinions more appropriately.

I know of the old adage, “One never discusses politics or religion in polite company.”  Politics and religion are my favorite topics and I find discussing them to be mentally stimulating.   However, even prattling about mindless trivialities can get you in trouble these days.  Discussing the weather can easily slip into the politicized bombshell of “climate change.”  “How are you?” – can lead to a debate on the importance of God in our lives. 

Since discussions of things that are important to us lead us to express our opinions.  And, since opinions are as ubiquitous and individual as people, we need to learn how to express our opinions and when to just shut up.

From someone who apparently feels that everyone is entitled to my opinion, I offer the following list, based on extensive experience with my wife and children, and on the job.

Shut Up When You…

  1. See a glazed look in the eyes of the person to whom you are speaking. They are no longer listening, no matter how brilliant your comments are.
  2. Are doing all of the talking and no one else is participating in the “conversation.” This is when you become a bore and a boor.
  3. Know the other person has no regard for what you are saying. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
  4. Are damaging your relationship by what you are saying. Sometimes you have to say unpleasant things to others, but stop until you can say it in a better way.
  5. Keep talking about things that are inconsequential or unimportant to others. For example, when you discuss the latest standings in the NBA with me.
  6. Start to use sarcasm. Sarcasm is the language of arrogance and condescension.
  7. Are expressing an opinion on something you know little or nothing about. Questioning would be more appropriate.
  8. Realize that being right is not as important as being right with the person to whom you are speaking. Relationships are always more important than being right.
  9. Use inflammatory language. The politician you are discussing is not an idiot, even if you strongly disagree with his/her philosophy.
  10. Realize that the other person in the conversation is an egotist. The proud are terrible conversationalists since they prefer to lecture and mock rather than discuss.
  11. Resort to demeaning the other person rather than focusing on the topic. This is a sure indication that you do not have the ability to defend your opinion.
  12. Lecture anyone for more than three minutes. After three minutes of talking, you have lost their attention and you are probably just repeating what you already said.
  13. Could undermine the authority of a leader of a worthwhile cause.  Talk to the leader if you have a concern instead of complaining to anyone who will listen.
  14. Become aware that everything you are saying is about yourself. No one wants to listen to a braggart.
  15. Intend to say something, that doesn’t have to be said, that could hurt someone else’s feelings. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean that it has to be spoken.

The ability to say the right thing at the right time is an important talent.  The ability to know when to shut up and do it is probably more important.

A version of this article was published by familyshare.com here.

Counterfeit Morality

 

IMG_0611The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This “separation of church and state” is now typically interpreted as the exclusion of God from anything governmental.  Reading the speeches of the founding fathers reveals that they considered God an integral part of their lives and the existence of this nation.  

The culture of our century is defined by Hollywood morality.  In other words, the moral compass of our country now consists of platitudes that reflect the philosophies of men with God playing only a minor role.

Without God, you can make up your own rules; which is precisely what has been done.  The government is now the counterfeit god you pray to in order to get what you want.  Environmentalism is now the counterfeit religion, just like the nature worshiping pagans and pantheists of antiquity. 

Of even greater concern is the impact that Hollywood morality has had on those who worship God.  Corrupt philosophies have led to a counterfeit tolerance that does not judge anything to be good or evil.  They attempt to claim their virtue by preaching, “God is love.”  God is just love and nothing else; no justice, no obedience, no self-control and no accountability?

This chic concept of situational ethics ignores consequences and the absolutes that God mandated.   As philosopher, C. Terry Warner put it, “Indulgence is a punitive counterfeit of charity.” 

Counterfeit morality appeals to those who are wise in their own eyes.  Consider how the Ten Commandments have been perverted by otherwise God-fearing people.

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Haven’t we, as a society, embraced celebrities, sports teams, jobs, entertainment, etc. to be our modern-day gods?

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Aren’t cars, boats, homes, jewelry, etc. forms of graven, or man-made, images that we can choose worship and adore?

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Isn’t profanity rampant in all segments of society with the name of the Lord featured prominently?  And, doesn’t using the name of our God in casual conversation and in meaningless oaths qualify as “in vain?”

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Are football, working, shopping, playing at the beach, going to Disneyland, etc. holy activities?  Is God’s designated holy day just like all the rest?”

5. Honor thy father and thy mother.

Does honoring our parents allow ignoring them in their old age?  How about when young adults live off the labors of their parents?  Finally, can we honor parents when we absolve ourselves of their care in favor of government agencies?

6. Thou shalt not kill.

People don’t usually kill others, partly because of the consequences.  How about when they kill the spirit of another through abuse or neglect?  Isn’t abortion a form of killing, since that embryo already has God-given life in it?

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Is it ever acceptable to trifle with the God-given power to create life?  Aren’t promiscuity, pornography, sexual abuse and perversion all forms of violating the sacredness of what God intended as marital relations for a husband and wife?  Isn’t sexual immorality one of the foundations of the corrupting Hollywood morality?

8. Thou shalt not steal.

Aren’t exorbitant judgments from groundless lawsuits now one of the major get-rich-quick scams of our day for dishonest plaintiffs and their attorneys?  Is it not also stealing to tax one group of citizens so politicians can improve their image by being charitable with other people’s money?

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

Don’t we allow a little cheating on a tax return, accepting political “spin,” twisting the truth to suit our needs and exaggerating the negatives about people we don’t like?

10. Thou shalt not covet.

Aren’t debt, fashion devotion, and some forms of plastic surgery all manifestations of coveting things we don’t have?

Conventional wisdom teaches that we should do whatever we want unless it hurts another person directly and immediately.  Therefore, have sex outside marriage as long as you use a condom.  Ignore God because his justice is not immediate.  Cheat on your taxes as long as you don’t get caught.  Drive as fast as you want if you don’t hit someone else.  Do anything you want as long as you can get away with it.

Conventional wisdom is counterfeit wisdom.  The Ten Commandments are commandments and not suggestions or broad guidelines open to loose interpretation.  Justice will come.  Hollywood morality and our counterfeit culture will all unravel.  The only hope is to love God and our fellowman by keeping the commandments.  It is the only way to true happiness.