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Black

Untamed

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

—James 3:3-12


Though it's not explicitly Law, the old maxim "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is at the very least a good idea. I'm struggling with it. Logic plays a part in holding me back— if I respond to careless speech with equally careless speech, everyone loses.

Why are we so careless with what we say? LiveJournal is one of the more ironic places to pose the question, as for many of us this is our journal, where we can throw out unvarnished thoughts and emotionally vomit until we feel better or don't care to type any longer. Forums like this are and should be "let the reader beware" zones, as I doubt anyone is forced to read a single word at pain of death. So I'm not sure my thoughts and frustrations are necessarily applicable to LJ; it's the bigger picture I'm wrestling with.

All that said, why? Don't we think? Most of us seem to just let loose, satisfied that we know what we mean and that should be enough. Communication is truly a lost art, as so many functionally believe the full responsibility for understanding their blather rests with the other party (if they care at all). But really, if all that matters is that I (the speaker) understand, why speak at all? Instead we huff and puff, and everywhere else I'm tempted to go with the analogy is crude and inappropriate.

Lots to do today and the clock is ticking. Just needed to vent my spleen a bit before I began madly duct taping people's mouths closed and inviting the entire world to have a tall, cold glass of Shut The Hell Up.

Comments

It is not our communication skills that are poor. It is our listening and thought skills that need development. Rarely to people take the time to be silent and absorb. Everything, everywhere is so noisy and busy. Many never learned to stop and just listen then reflect, before regurgitating thoughts and opinions.

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You are partially right, since communication involves not just speaking, but also listening. So yes, we have poor communication skills, in the aspect of listening. :)

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You're so right. I think a lot of it is an overpowering desire to make others think well of us, or think of us at all. It's paradoxical, since so often people act as if others' understanding is unimportant, but the truth is we wouldn't be processing externally if not to impact others. The deafening noise of our world and culture makes it seem as if we have to be louder to be heard.
I do my very best to write with the reader in mind. You've been reading my journal for quite some time now... I think when you first started, I used some more colorful language and tended to badmouth people through livejournal. I hope, at least it has been my intent, on that stopping completely. It's having other christians such as you that helps me more to think before I speak/write.

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I think many of us have grown and are growing here as we turn ourselves over to Him. Though I have my gripes and my fair share of drama and weirdness, I think He's used the process of writing and communicating here for my good. I'm glad you feel the same and I'm encouraged reading you.
"For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect [mature] man, able to bridle the whole body as well." James 1:2

Messed-up world, messed-up people.
I'm figuring out what I believe about live journal.

Even though it's a journal and I treat it like one (I don't write for the reader in mind), I worry about what effect it has. I swear sometimes, I rant. blah blah.

It feels good to do. But is it ultimately good?

Probably not. I'm thinking about going private for a while until I sort that out in my head.

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You know how I feel about this. You must have permission from sominfun if you want to go private.
I loved this entry (along with many of your other ones). I found you after discovering our mutual interest in Brennan Manning. Thanks for the much-needed reminder of the fact that, because of the magnitude of God's gift of communication, our stewardship of it must be responsibly reverent.

Win in the End

Thank you. I love that you and I share other interests as well; I suspect we may be the only two who list both Manning and Teen Wolf. That's worth celebrating.

Re: Win in the End

Indeed it is! Man I loved I'm With Busey. What happened to it?
You are now added to my friends list. You are under no obligation to return the gesture, I just thought you might want to know ;)

Re: Win in the End

It's good to do things without obligation— you're added to mine.

I miss Busey. Quite the little nutty-nut.
I don't always agree with the "if you can't say anything nice" principle although I see your point. Everytime someone says that to me, I imagine Jesus doing His "woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" speech or Him calling them 'a brood of vipers" not to mention the scene in the temple and the "den of thieves" thing. I can just imagine that person going up to Jesus at those moments and saying, "now Jesus, if you can't say anything nice.." etc.

I think the truth is sometimes unpleasant but just because someone doesn't want to hear it, doesn't mean they don't need to and it doesn't mean you're not being 'nice' although you may sound unkind.

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Exactly. What people aren't with their words is careful or deliberate. My thoughts here don't have much to do with speaking the truth so much as speaking recklessly and with no one but ourselves in mind. This clearly does not apply to Jesus. I see/hear/read it with the rest of us all the time.

It's fascinating to see how few opinions Jesus spouted. It really wasn't His thing, and He usually had to be pressed by others to give one at all. Now listen to the rest of us— it's practically all we do. I find that if I sit in a coffee shop and listen, the predominant tone of most of the conversations is righteous indigantion (Maybe I'm at the wrong coffee shop? Try it out...). These are the kinds of things which lead me to conclude many of us should consider just hushing up more often.

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I confess to not really understanding your point, here. I think what you are saying is something along the lines of not possessing a timid spirit when it comes to speaking the Truth. To be sure of it, ready to speak it plainly when need be. I agree with this.

But Scripture specifically calls us to be gentle and respectful with Truth, always realizing that we too could be tempted to do the same thing we are speaking up about.

And with regard to how Jesus communicated, His focus with communication seemed to be more creative than confrontive. There is the perhaps, 1% where he calls people out using the adjectives you referred to, but I wonder if he meant those to be applied so broadly, given how few of those types of exchanges are mentioned.

Instead, we have example after example where He often indirect, speaking in parables and story-telling. It seemed that the goal of his message was to be effective - not forceful.

I read in your journal where you couldn't disagree more with the 'say something nice or don't say anything at all' principle, and I suppose that I couldn't disagree more with your disagreement. If we put ourselves on the receiving end of behavior, it seems pretty safe to say that collectively, most of us respond a bit better to kindness rather than not.

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Interesting that you bring up the few times that Jesus calls people out. The harshest words are reserved for the religious leaders who spend their days engaging in empty talk (the kind that pisses me off, I'd like to think). The next level are people He is in relationship with— His disciples and even His mother. So in those cases, there's a loving context in which His words fit. These probably are good benchmarks for us.

Of course, asking Him and listening to the Spirit is an even better way to go. Most of us struggle with holding our words for that long, which should tell us something.