Posts Tagged ‘talk radio’

Ending the Nonstop Shouting

“WE ARE PROMOTING CONFLICT in every aspect of our society,” said Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) recently at a major education conference. He added…

“On TV, let’s get the extreme left and extreme right … to start yelling at each other. I’ve been on these shows, I know what they want. I’ve stopped going on a lot of them because I don’t have any interest in participating in screaming at somebody. That’s the society our kids are coming up in … constant stress and anxiety and conflict and fighting.”

I agree with Congressman Ryan’s summary of a major societal problem that I can’t imagine anyone could reasonably dispute. But his solution—and that of others at the conference—I’m convinced won’t work. The proposal offered is something called SEL—“social and emotional learning”—an effort to teach emotional and conflict management skills to children as part of elementary school curriculum offerings.

The polarization of society—the dialing upward of rage and combat—isn’t something I believe can be reversed through better education. The name-calling and vilifying—the hate- and fear-mongering so alarmingly prevalent—isn’t really the result of some deficiency in public education. It’s a moral and spiritual deficiency, so that if anything, it’s a shortcoming in home/parental education prior even to kindergarten.

Peace, tolerance, understanding, patience, openness to the views of others…these are skills and virtues rooted in the message of the Bible. Yet even Bible information can become the basis for conflict and argument and “generating heat instead of light.” So it must go even deeper than simply knowing the Bible message. Character—integrity, kindness, peace-seeking, genuine love and acceptance—comes from the Author of the Word and the Source of all these virtues. So only through connection with that Source can the problem of societal conflict be fundamentally changed for the better.

Yes, the war between good and evil has been going on for eons now. But in recent decades—even in the last one alone—the conflict between the two has become far more open and bitter. So increasingly, verbal and physical violence is modeled as the accepted and preferred way to settle disagreements. Civility and courtesy are virtually absent from the daily shoutfests of TV talking heads and the hate-filled bile of talk radio hosts.

The only current solution has to be a personal one—a determination to daily and increasingly connect with the Source of Good Character. That is the best we can seek, as we wait for the ultimate solution—the silencing of all conflict and shouting when the Prince of Peace returns to reclaim His hijacked Earth.

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Agnew’s Apt Alliterations

HE HAD HIS OWN PROBLEMS with living on the minus side of life’s ledger, but one-time U.S. vice president Spiro T. Agnew once gave a speech that propelled a four-word phrase into the national lexicon—words apt enough to apply just as fully now as they did then.

On September 11, 1970, Vice President Agnew (who would three years later be forced to resign, pleading no contest to various corruption charges), gave a speech to the California Republican state convention.

The media were quick to pick up on the first of two alliterative phrases he used in his address:

“In the United States today,” Agnew said, “we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club: the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.

Though spoken by Agnew, the alliterations were actually written for him by the late William Safire, at the time a speechwriter for both Agnew and President Richard Nixon. Safire would go on to become a legendary columnist for The New York Times.

Nattering refers to nonstop, empty, purposeless chatter. A nabob is a member of the privileged or influential elite. Agnew’s intended target seemed to be the national media.

Going on 40 years later, Agnew’s broadside against negativism still resonates with me and seems more timely than ever. Increasingly, we live in a society that seems to have abandoned itself to negativity.

For Christians, this has very real implications. Until sin arrived, the universe operated entirely in the realm of the positive. God Himself—and His fundamental nature of love—are all-positive. The essence of sin, of selfishness, is negative. The great battle between good and evil is in a real sense the contest between the positive and the negative.

The shouting pundits—the stunningly rude talking heads—of TV…the revolting purveyors of hate and fear and racial division on so-called “talk radio”…the “us versus them” mentality that has invaded even Christian churches…all these are symptomatic of a tragic and alarming rise in negativity.

I’m saddened when I read the savage, hate-filled comments on various blogs or social networking sites. Bile, venom, and rage flow in word-rivers down the pages.

But I’m even more saddened when I see Christians attacking not only other Christians with whom they disagree, but even non-believers—as if condemning them is the road to winning them.

Can we not still see the wisdom in a better way of witnessing?

“The people of the world are worshiping false gods. They are to be turned from their false worship, not by hearing denunciation of their idols, but by beholding something better. God’s goodness is to be made known.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 299.

Perhaps it’s too much for which to hope for a reversal of negativity. But regrettably, as this earth enters its final wrap-up, I’m quite certain things will get worse rather than better. The influence of God’s Spirit is being withdrawn and an insane and enraged enemy is holding nothing back in his last desperate ploy to eke out a doomed victory to control this planet.

So yes, soon negativity will be forever gone. But as the darkness of negativity closes in around us more every day, we don’t have to become part of it. We can choose to be relentlessly positive people—to stay firmly and constantly connected to the Source of all positivity—and to put forth the daily effort to light candles instead of cursing—or worse, joining—the darkness.