Sunday, June 17, 2012

Talk, Talk, Talk

It’s time to talk (well, really write) about talking.  For most healthy individuals, talking is accessible through one of the original five senses I believe were wired into us by the Creator.  As such, I consider it a gift each of us can utilize, one that our listeners may potentially enjoy, and when used for the purpose of solving problems while accompanied by positive actions, one the world can benefit from.  And yet we seem to have generally failed to harness its healing and comforting potential, mismanaged its power, and turned a blind eye (strangely using another one of our senses) to its shortcomings.

One of the best experiences that an individual can have in life is to hear someone speak words of comfort to them.  Examples that come to mind are the words of Jesus to each of us, the loving expressions of a parent, the adoring words of a lover, the understanding of a friend, and the favorable decision of one in authority.  Yet many of us fail to recognize the impact our words may have on others.  If so we would take greater care to form them and to utter them more often.  For example, when was the last time you really “I love you” to the one you love and meant it?  Even if we’ve been recipients of such comfort, we tend to forget the need for us to pass it on to others at times when they may best benefit from it.

At the same time, ever since the events in the Garden of Eden, mankind has mismanaged the power of talking by using it falsely.  Lies have been uttered to get one’s way, to avoid responsibility, to cheat, steal, control others, and ultimately to provide reason to fire, kill, and eliminate people.  Politicians use lies to get elected.  Unscrupulous preachers use them to make great gains.  Men use them to get their way with women and women use them to deceive men, and, lest you’re ready to pounce on me, vice-versa.
All of us, under certain circumstances, all fall prey to the sin of turning a blind eye to at least one shortcoming of ‘talking’ – and that is, that unless it is accompanied by the action it speaks of, it is indeed useless and often harmless.  Idle words are just that.  Not just talking of love, but showing it, is what really matters as the song from the musical My Fair Lady reminds us.   “Promises, promises, promises” are just that whether they come from a loved one, a barker at the fair, or the leader of a nation.  So are threats, just threats unless carried out.  But generally speaking many of us continue to support the individuals that do not deliver beyond their words.  We listen to the things they say, accept their excuses for not delivering on what they said they would do, and continue to trust them.  And by so doing, we encourage the repeated behavior.  The man who promises to stop having his affairs, continues them, and his spouse just keeps hoping he will change.  The politician is not more transparent as he promised, but becomes more corrupt, and we re-elect him.  The abuser still abuses.  The addict continues to engage in his addiction.  People are hurt.  Things go from bad to worse.  All seems helpless.  Thank goodness that some of us fortunately have learned the value of what is called “Tough Love”.   Wikipedia says this about it: Tough love is an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. The phrase was evidently coined by Bill Milliken when he wrote the book Tough Love in 1968 and has been used by numerous authors since then.  In most uses, there must be some actual love or feeling of affection behind the harsh or stern treatment to be defined as tough love. For example, genuinely concerned parents refusing to support their drug-addicted child financially until he or she enters drug rehabilitation would be said to be practicing tough love.  Athletic coaches who maintain strict rules and highly demanding training regimens, but who care about their players, could also be said to be practicing tough love.”  More of us would be wise to use it more often as required – on children, employees (and also employers), friends, lovers, and above all, on politicians.
You may wonder how on earth it was that I ever came to write this blog.  It all began quite innocently when I read the quote of American author, William Dean Howells (1837-1920), in his book, The Rise of Silas Lapham.  He makes this observation through one of his characters:  “There would be very little talking at dinner if one only said the things that one was sure of.”

What would dinners be like without discussions about rumors we’ve heard, assumptions we make, beliefs that we hold, and of course our own ‘promises’ to others present or otherwise?  (“Yes, we’ll do lunch.”  “I’ll be sure to write.”  “I’ll call you tonight.”  “The check is in the mail.” And so on.)  Worse still, what would political debates and White House press conferences be like if the ‘talkers’ only told us what “is” instead of “what they can do”?  Have you had enough yet?  I have.  Now, it’s your turn.  Go ahead, “talk, talk, talk” but don’t forget to let your “yea be yea and your nay be nay”.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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