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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

The brutalization of thought and the loss of moral inhibitions...
Date Posted: May 27, 2022

During a U.N. commemoration of the Jewish holocaust several years ago, Germany’s then-Chancellor Schroeder acknowledged the environment that existed prior to and throughout W.W. II that allowed for the atrocities inflicted on the Jewish people and anyone else disagreeing with the Nazi agenda.

The simple statement that, “The brutalization of thought and the loss of moral inhibitions had a history,…” in Germany that preconditioned its citizens to embrace Nazi ideals, speaks to a number of issues today. The Germans were determined to regain their place of superiority among the rest of Europe by reversing their geographic, economic and military losses of W.W. I; being convinced this should be done regardless of the cost to themselves and others. (Much as Vladimir Putin is now trying to reverse the collapse of the Soviet Union – in part – by attempting to conquer Crimea and Ukraine.) The abandonment of morality on the political front was mirrored in the personal ethics of many ordinary citizens as well. Thus their final solution for the subjection of Europe to German rule and the systematic destruction of Jews in concentration camps. It took time to gradually convince the ordinary citizen of the necessity of that “program”, desensitizing them to the horrors inflicted on themselves and millions of others as a result. This by a nation who at one time was a champion of the Christian faith, now either enthusiastically supporting the barbarity of the Nazi program or merely turning their heads and ignoring it.

The same can be said of many crimes “ordinary” people commit today; shootings at political gatherings, houses of worship, theaters, supermarkets, schools, etc., giving evidence of any number of disturbed individuals using violence to “express” themselves, either out of desperation or in mimicry of others who have done the same. Many occurrences adding another layer to research that shows how perpetrators are often goaded into action by outside stimulus; adulterers and rapists aroused to action by pornography, murderers and terrorists sometimes finding inspiration in examples of violence portrayed on screen or in written reports of others’ actions. Alcoholics and drug addicts often have their addictions reinforced by an environment of acceptance or indifference, smokers are teased by ads that avoid mentioning the danger of illness and death while homosexuals are enabled and even encouraged by the ideals of diversity and tolerance. All of which raises the issue of guarding our minds – whenever possible – from exposure to evil.

The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, (what you know and are motivated by, for our purposes here – your mind) for it is the well-spring of life.” Prob. 4:23 Many of you are on your own for the first time in your lives while some have had a little more practice being exposed to new ideas, surroundings and experiences; which involves deciding between good, bad, better and best. At any rate, you are all in a position where Mom and Dad are not going to be there constantly reminding you of those differences and helping you make good decisions. While that’s cool, it’s also a lot of responsibility. The counsel, help and advice of friends and family can and should aid you in making your decisions; but now they are yours to make in a way they have never been before. The answers to life’s questions and their results are now yours. Thus the importance of guarding your heart/mind.

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘Garbage in – garbage out’? That’s why we are admonished to be careful whom we associate with, what music we listen to, the movies and TV we watch, the stories and jokes we hear. All of which can be processed as part of our psyche and resurface at inappropriate times. Sometimes the very thing we don’t really want to recall is what will come back to haunt us, being revived in a weak moment to help push us over the edge to participation in something we wouldn’t ordinarily do and know deep within is wrong. Matthew recorded Jesus saying, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”; mirroring the old saying, ‘The eyes are the window of the soul’ – meaning that you can often sense what kind of person someone is by the light of intelligence and personality expressed through their eyes. But there is also the inference that through what we visually experience we are often induced to accept or become. Thus Jesus’ assessment that, “If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.” Matthew 6:22,23 (See also Proverbs 23:7 )

Your loved ones want more than anything else to protect you from harm; that includes emotional and spiritual harm as well as physical. They don’t want you to experience things among your peers that would be demeaning, hurtful, coarse or “dark”. Oftentimes doing so by diverting your attention to things of value. So how do you control what you see, hear and participate in? How do you monitor what you expose yourselves to? What should your response be to things you can’t control? Get away from it!

Which raises another issue. At what age does it become o.k. to watch r and x-rated movies, to listen to provocative music, to tell or listen to indecent stories and racist jokes? Can you safely experience stuff at twenty you shouldn’t at fifteen? I want to say, very guardedly; maybe – to a few things. It’s never right to watch x-rated material, displaying an abusive or users attitude. There is nothing wholesome or uplifting in listening to coarse, filthy, and suggestive music and jokes; which doesn’t rule out all love songs. There may be an exception for a few R-rated movies that deal with violence or adult subjects honestly albeit graphically; but which don’t wallow in gore and explicit sex. The inherent problem being the idea of tolerance and desensitization. The more you see and hear, the less sensitive to such material you become. (And what about your kids? As you grow older and have them, will you have developed the sense and sensibility to realize that ANY viewing of such at their impressionable, innocent age is harmful?)

Jesus cautions that, “… out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean;...” Matthew 15:18-20 Where do these unclean acts have their starting point? As a thought, an idea, an emotion born from what we’ve seen, heard and imagined; which often translates itself into action. Thus Jesus’ assertion that, “… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (And actions are generated.) 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.” Matthew 12:34,35

Paul prescribed a solution to this troublesome process by directing us to, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 Such as “…whatever is true, …noble, …right, …pure, …lovely, … admirable – if anything is praiseworthy – think about such things... And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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