"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Recently there have been several incidents cited in the news about public figures and their lack of civility. Joe Wilson’s ‘You Lie!’ outburst during a joint session of Congress, Serena Williams explicative laced rant against a line judge at the US Open, or Kanye West’s alcohol driven interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the Music Award have been the talk of most news outlets over the past few days. Public outbursts, and word vomit have been around and in the news for as long as the English language has been in existence, and will continue to be. On 60 Minutes, President Obama said, “the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention. And so, one of the things I'm trying to figure out is, you know, how can we make sure that civility is interesting?” Which begs the question, what is the bottom line of incivility? Although those that are in the public eye tend to get plenty of attention when they spout off at the mouth or doing something foolish, we are all guilty of the same thing and have no right to sit in the seat of judgment. We have all said things that we wish we could take back, done things we later regret, but is impossible to take back the words you speak and you can’t reverse your actions. Apologies come and go, but sin remains. Which is the bottom line of incivility. We are all born with the desire to be #1, the need to be heard and although some people’s fuse is shorter than others, we all get angry at things that in the long run are small by comparison to the larger issues that we all face. Jesus said, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:34-37) Stories of crazed tirades, and harsh words will continue to come across the news waves, but we have it within our power, through Jesus Christ, to hold our tongues and watch our actions in our own households. Changing social incivility starts with the individual, and in the words of Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.