Friday, August 16, 2013

Respect and Decency...Where Have They Gone?



Come on now. Tell me the truth... you've said it. You have heard it said again and again. You have discussed it with your family, co-workers, friends, and even strangers in impromptu conversations. It's more often than not in the form of a question. And that question is.."where has common decency gone?"

We have all said it, and with good reason too. You cannot turn on the radio, the television, the computer; you cannot go to the movies, without being bombarded with sexual innuendos, graphic pictures, graphic talk, and just plain out and out filth. You know it is getting bad when the first words a five year old uses after about a week in his kindergarten class is a word that, as my mom would have put it, "is enough to make a sailor blush".

Unfortunately, in this day and age, filthy talk is the "norm" in society at large. So much so, that "polite society", kindness, and just plain old manners seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. People use the "F" word freely, randomly, no matter who may be present, and with no more forethought or concern than that which is required for taking their next breath. They willingly take the Lord's name in vain, as if there is nothing shameful or harmful in doing so.

I live in the mountains of North Carolina, one of those southern states, that was known throughout the USA, even the world, for the friendliness, hospitality, courtesy and gentility of its people. Yet, more and more, those good qualities seem to be seen and heard less and less. People seem to have lost respect for others, and even more so, for themselves.

People say, "well, times have changed"....people aren't so "uptight" as they were 10, 20, or 30 years ago. How "uptight" is it, to resist using the foul language that seems so rampant? I recall as a youngster, my father impressing on all three of his sons that at no time was cursing in public permissible and certainly no foul language in mixed company. We all knew that if we slipped up and did or said anything outside of the boundaries set for us, we'd catch it and catch it big! Although it was not fear of punishment that kept us following his instruction, it was his teaching us that not only was it showing good manners and respect to others, it was also a matter of honor.

Anyone who used such language was common, what we in the south called "trash". That may seem a harsh word or term, but has the same meaning and connotation as "common" is used in other countries. Yet, time and again, we see and hear indecency in film, music, television, and on the "net". People laugh when they hear or see it. Yet, is it laughter from finding things said and done funny, or is it a nervous laugh because they don't know quite else what to do? They don't want to be seen as "old fashioned" or as a "stick in the mud", so they either keep quiet or they go along with it, refusing to go against the current. How many times have we gone along with language or actions just to be "part of the gang"? We may even participate, and then claim it is all just harmless "fun" that hurts no one. There are no injuries; there is no victimization by seeing and repeating indecencies. Why, who in the world could be hurt by saying the "F" word? Who could be hurt by listening to music or watching movies with profanity and worse? Who? YOU!!!

Yes, you!! When we use foul language, when we listen to the music, when we watch films with all its foulness and all of its anti-social qualities, WE are the losers. Here is a little parable on how it eventually affects us: John is a worker with a landscaping company. John is very proud of the fact that he is immune to the effects of poison ivy. He brags how he could roll in it, and never break out from coming into contact with it. He grabs it with his bare hands and pulls it up by the roots. He carries it from wherever he is working, and laughs as other workers move quickly out of his way when he carries it to be hauled away with other brush. Then after a few years of this, John is carrying away an armful of it from a job sight. The poison ivy is in his bare arms, some of it even brushing against his face. Three nights later, John awakens with a terrible burning itch all over his arms and face. When he looks at his arms, they are covered with an angry looking red rash he is not familiar with. When he looks in the mirror, he sees the same red rash over his face, almost in his eyes. John goes to the doctor, and finds he had a reaction to poison ivy. John finds, that repeatedly coming into contact with the poison ivy has lowered his resistance to it, and that now he is just as susceptible to it as everyone else.

When we, participate in indecent behavior, through language, actions, or whatever, we then lower our resistance to it, and our participation becomes easier, and our conscience is dulled towards it.

Mark 7: 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.

James 3: 8 But the tongue no man can tame, an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison. 9 By it we bless God and the Father: and by it we curse men who are made after the likeness of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth, out of the same hole, sweet and bitter water? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear grapes? Or the vine, figs? So neither can the salt water yield sweet. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge, among you? Let him shew, by a good contestation, his work in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter zeal, and there be contention in your hearts: glory not and be not liars against the truth. 15 For this is not wisdom, descending from above: but earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and contention is: there is inconstancy and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation. 18 And the fruit of justice is sown in peace, to them that make peace.

1 Corinthians 15: 33 Be not seduced: Evil communications corrupt good manners.

Ephesians 5: 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: but rather reprove them. 12 For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.

Hebrews 12: 14 Follow peace with all men and holiness: without which no man shall see God. 15 Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder and by it many be defiled.


Copyright © 2006-2013 Gary Stephen Smith. All Rights Reserved.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on our "Spirituality and Mysticism" blog (now archived) in 2006.

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