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How to Avoid Corrupt Communications
This article will first define different scenarios where Corrupt Communications are expressed, then a lasting Solution on "How to Avoid and End Corrupt Communications" is explained. Finally, I've added a section at the end, detailing a less obvious aspect of Communication that can also be Corrupt: the Receiving and Perceiving side of a Communication.
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
In the previous passage Paul points to particular types of corrupt communication, specifically:
bitterness * wrath * anger * clamour * evil speaking * malice
This article will identify particular ways in which bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice are commonly expressed and perceived in everyday life -- from both the sender's side and the receiver's side of a communication.
Angry Attacks instead of Intelligent Dialogue based upon Facts. There is nothing more ironic than when "Christians" at Facebook choose to verbally lynch a political opponent. This "lynching" typically involves an attack upon a Person, rather than addressing an Issue with evidence and reason:
"Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly
If Believers will faithfully follow Jesus, it's vital to be a committed Christian first, and a Liberal or Conservative second. There are some self-identified "Christians" on the Right and the Left who viciously mock and willfully distort the views of opponents.
"I always cheer up immensely if an attack
While some propaganda is intentionally spread by design, still other forms of propaganda are peddled for lack of a coherent argument, and for lack factual evidence. Thus, some resort to propaganda simply because they have no intelligent response.
In a talk entitled, "Instruments of the Lord's Peace," Robert S. Woods writes:
"I have a friend who is a member of a political panel that is seen each week on national television. Explaining her role, she said, 'We are encouraged to speak before thinking!' We appear to be living in an era in which many are speaking without thinking, encouraging emotional reactions rather than thoughtful responses. Whether it be on the national or international stage, in personal relations or in politics, at home or in the public forum, voices grow ever more strident, and giving and taking offense appear to be chosen rather than inadvertent.
"I recall that as a graduate student I wrote a critique of an important political philosopher. It was clear that I disagreed with him. My professor told me that my paper was good, but not good enough. Before you launch into your criticism, she said, you must first present the strongest case for the position you are opposing, one that the philosopher himself could accept.
"It is far too easy sometimes to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism in dealing with those of contrary views. We demoralize or demean so as to bring others or their ideas in contempt... Jude, the brother of Christ, warned that 'there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.'
"Closely related to mockery is a spirit of cynicism. Cynics are disposed to find and to catch at fault. Implicitly or explicitly, they display a sneering disbelief in sincerity. Isaiah spoke of those who 'watch for iniquity' and 'make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.'
"Wherever we live in the world, we must be molded to be instruments of the Lord's peace. In the words of Peter, we have been claimed by God for His own, to proclaim the triumph of Him "who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light' ... Would we intentionally hide the light of the Lord by entering into a culture of slander, of stereotyping, of giving and seeking offense?
"The first casualties of human wrath are truth and understanding. James counseled that we be 'swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.' ... In a world beset by wrath, Gordon B. Hinckley, has counseled:
'Now, there is much that we can and must do in these perilous times. We can give our opinions on the merit of the situation as we see it, but never let us become a party to words or works of evil concerning our brothers and sisters in various nations on one side or the other. Political differences never justify hatred or ill will. I hope that the Lord's people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties.'
Mormon Church leader, W. Craig Zwick, observed how clamour and evil speaking can sometimes occur within home and family environments:
"Children sometimes speak to beloved parents with tongues as sharp as blades. Spouses,
Clearly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to treat all people with kindness, civility and love -- especially family members. To do otherwise is to walk as un-believers walk, who have blinded hearts and their understanding darkened.
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord,
From its foundations, the hallmark of being a Christian Believer is that we follow in the footsteps of the Savior. Jesus taught this defining aspect of faithful following in His steps — a truth that separates true believers from people who merely call themselves "Christian" -- yet fail to live up to the full meaning of that word:
Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me,
Exactly how do you and I cease Corrupt Communications? How do we put an end to bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice?
“Everywhere is heard the snide remark, the sarcastic jibe, the cutting down of associates. Sadly, these are too often the essence of our conversation. In our homes, wives weep and children finally give up under the barrage of criticism leveled by husbands and fathers. Criticism is the forerunner of divorce, the cultivator of rebellion, sometimes a catalyst that leads to failure. … I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.”
There are at least Two Kinds of Sarcasm in our Culture:
However, the second definition doesn't really fit the etymology of the word "sarcasm" -- which comes from the Greek word, Sarkasein = meaning "tear the flesh." It is seldom funny when people use cutting, tearing words.
How many people hide behind humor to rationalize away intentional insults that hurt, saying, "I was just kidding!" Insulting, hurtful sarcasm is not a Christlike approach. Here's what Jennifer Grace Jones said about sarcasm in the August 2013 Ensign Magazine:
“Children who are brought up in overly sarcastic environments may learn that sarcasm is the only way to cope with problems, and this shortchanges their ability to communicate honest feelings.”
From the same magazine article, she adds:
"My new friends relied on sarcasm to be funny, sometimes exploiting others’ weaknesses for humor... However, months of interactions in which humor came at the expense of someone’s feelings—including mine—left my heart heavy. I yearned for friends who would encourage me instead of make fun me... [I realize now] that sarcasm is part of what the Apostle Paul called 'corrupt communication'.”
“Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive.”
Another form of corrupt communication is that of Cyber bullying and Cyber Lynching. The shroud of Internet anonymity allows bullies to harass their targets with virtually no repercussions.
The Continuum could also be explained this way:
Self-Love Selfishness Vanity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Love of God, Self-less-ness, Empathy
When you and I do not have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we lose the agency to choose Good:
"But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them,
The following story, related by Craig Zwick, illustrates important principles of clear communication:
"Forty-one years ago I climbed into the driver’s seat of an 18-wheel semitruck with my beautiful wife, Jan, and our infant son, Scotty. We were taking a heavy load of construction materials across several states.
"As we made our descent over historic Donner Pass, a steep section of highway, the cab of the semi suddenly and unexpectedly filled with thick smoke. It was difficult to see, and we could hardly breathe.
"Just as I was pulling to the side of the road, but before we had come to a full stop, my wife opened the door of the cab and jumped out with our baby in her arms. I watched helplessly as they tumbled in the dirt.
"As soon as I had the semi stopped, I bolted from the smoking cab. With adrenaline pumping, I ran through the rocks and weeds and held them in my arms. Jan’s forearms and elbows were battered and bleeding, but thankfully she and our son were both breathing. I just held them close as the dust settled there on the side of the highway.
"As my heartbeat normalized and I caught my breath, I blurted out, 'What in the world were you thinking? Do you know how dangerous that was? You could have been killed!'
She looked back at me, with tears running down her smoke-smudged cheeks, and said something that pierced my heart and still rings in my ears: 'I was just trying to save our son'."
Christians are admonished to seek after things that are virtuous and praiseworthy. The Apostle Paul taught:
"Whatsoever things are true and honest; whatsoever things are just and pure; whatsoever things are lovely and of good report; if there be any virtue or any praise, think on these things." (Philip. 4:8)
When our daily conversations fail to focus upon ideas and activities of excellent, praise and of good report, we risk falling into a trivial trap of speaking and listening to "vain babblings." Paul preached:
"But shun profane and vain babblings, avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and such vain babblings will spread like gangrene." (2 Tim. 2:16-17)
"Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." (1 Tim. 1:4-7)
The word "vain" derives from the Latin root "vanus," meaning "empty." With that in mind, read another passage from the Bible (Jer. 4:14) that admonishes against empty thoughts that flow from a wicked heart:
"O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.
Would anyone admit to, and intentionally seek, to speak and listen to Empty Chatter? Whether we see it or not, the massive amounts of information spread via Internet are bankrupt in virtue and praise. Those souls who post at websites like "Facebook" commonly circulate ideas that are empty, and devoid of lasting value.
“Wise men talk because they have something to say;
The Apostle Paul identified a pattern of "doting" upon trivial things -- in other words, adoring and indulging in empty chatter:
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth: from such withdraw thyself." (1 Tim. 3:3-5)
The of the first things that we can do to avoid, and ultimately put and end to Vain Babblings and Correupt Communications of every kind, is to recognize the difference between Ideas of Excellence versus Ideas that are Empty and of little lasting value. When we indulge in such Empty Communications, we reveal Who We Are from our Core:
"People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character."
"A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation."
Jesus taught that the words that we speak, flow from the good or evil treasures of the Heart. Again we reveal the core of our character by what comes out of us in terms of thoughts, words, and deeds.
""O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
Empty Thoughts inevitably lead to empty words, vain babblings, corrupt communications. Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) identified the damage that vain babblings and evil speaking inflict on our relationships and upon our communities:
"I try to read newspapers, two or three a day. I sometimes read the columnists. I occasionally listen to commentators on television and radio. The writers are brilliant. They are men of incisive language, scintillating in expression. They are masters of the written word. But for the most part I find their attitude is negative. Regardless of whom they write about, they seem to look for failings and weaknesses. They are constantly criticizing, seldom praising. And this spirit is not limited to the columnists and the commentators. Read the letters to the editor. Some of them are filled with venom, written by persons who seem to find no good in the world or in their associates.
" Criticism, faultfinding, evil speaking -- these are of the spirit of our day. From many directions we are told that nowhere is there a man of integrity holding political office. Businessmen are crooks. Utilities are out to rob you. Everywhere is heard the snide remark, the sarcastic gibe, the cutting down of associates. Sadly, these are too often the essence of our conversation. In our homes, wives weep and children finally give up under the barrage of criticism leveled by husbands and fathers. Criticism is the forerunner of divorce, the cultivator of rebellion, sometimes a catalyst that leads to failure. … I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.”
Will-Power will not Work. Even with the most impressive attempts at white-knuckle-will-power (the type of fiercely determined will-power manifest with gritted-teeth and clenched fists) still, Corrupt Communications will inevitably LEAK out of a person who IS Corrupt, to some degree. In other words, Darkness naturally leaks, drips, and oozes out of Dark People.
So the best way to end Corrupt Communications is to to be changed from being a corrupt and dark person ... to a person of love and light. This involves becoming clean and pure through the cleansing power of Christ's atonement. And then, from this place of purity, ... pure thoughts, worthy words, and loving deed will naturally flow from us, . . . just like pure water naturally flows from a pure fountain.
"For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water;
Corrupt Communications will naturally flow out of us, to the extent that we harbor spiritual darkness within our hearts. Thus, our ability to control our communications -- whether corrupt or compassionate -- is determined by the quality of our spiritual life.
Where would you place yourself on the following continuum of spiritual awareness and action?
Pitch Black . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shade of Gray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pure White
No Control of Corrupt Communications: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No Disposition or Desire to Do Evil:
This Continuum is based upon the following principles:
"For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, ... But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him."
"But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle."
"Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this — Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world."
Paul alluded to the problem of being in partnership with darkness, as people choose iniquity and selfish pride:
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord,
Vanity = van·i·ty noun \ˈva-nə-tē\
With self-centered vanity comes Blindness of Heart and Darkened Understand. This means that people who Walk in Darkness do not see the world as it is, factually. Instead, they see a Distortion of Reality. Thus it is natural from this distorted and dark wordview, it is natural to respond with distorted and dark communications — corrupt communications, namely:
bitterness * wrath * anger * clamour * evil speaking * malice
In my book, Changing Your Stripes, I call these dark emotions, BRIAR Emotions. And when they Leak, Drip, or Ooze out of you, THIS is a tell-tale sign that you have betrayed the Light in some way.
In Contrast to Pure White. Visualize a canvas of pure white, the kind of canvas that an artist uses to paint a portrait. Think of your life as a collection of colors being painted upon this clean, clear canvas. With every word you think and every deed you do, the portrait of your life is painted, and in contrast to pure white, any tint or shade less than white is obvious and conspicuous. Against an immaculate backdrop, you are able to see . . . with perfect clarity, how some motives and emotions fall short of pure white.
In your mind's eye, imagine that all loving words and deeds possess the unsullied shine of bright white. The purity of love would have no hint of darkness, not even the slightest shade of gray. Every word, deed, thought, or emotion that is "less-than" pure white, is a shade of betrayal:
Black & Gray Emotions Emotions of Bright White
impetuous edgy calm approachable
Shades of Betrayal: Less-than-Love. When we are being less-than-loving, the portrait we paint upon the white canvas is clouded by confusion; instead of vivid hues of red, blue, and green, a quarreling collision of colors makes the muddied shades of black and gray. Thus the portrait of our Life loses clarity . . . and beauty. Against the backdrop of bright white, even the subtlest shades of gray are easily exposed.
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Ezra Taft Benson taught, "When you do good, you feel good." And the opposite is also true = When you feel good, meaning you enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you will naturally do good. The following passage of scripture suggests that those who become clean through Christ, will have no more desire to do darkness, or express corrupt communications.
"And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."
"And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity."
Getting clean happens only through Jesus Christ. So the KEY to becoming a pure fountain from which pure waters flow, happens solely through the Savior's redeeming miracle -- He makes us new creatures who have no more disposition or desire to do evil. And when we are made clean through Christ, it is then that clear and compassionate communications naturally flow from us.
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: ... the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth ... he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."
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Finally, here's a principle taught by Stephen R. Covey,
" Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood"
Truth is, most people listen with the intent to reply, but not listen to understand. Corrupt Communications include turning a deaf ear to the words, hopes, and needs of other people -- bad listening and bad perceiving is the parallel complement to ... "evil speaking."
Corrupt Communications most obviously entail what comes out of the mouth — what the Sender of a Communication is expressing. But the whole context of every communication involves both a Sender and a Receiver — and Communications can absolutely be Corrupted from the Receiving / Perceiving side of a communication. In fact, a sent-communication need not even be pejorative or offensive ... for a Receiver to perceive something pejorative and offensive.
The Internet is a gigantic cesspool of propaganda and slander. But, curiously, even when communications are virituous and praiseworthy, its quite common for someone to take offense at information that is not factually offensive. Thus a Receiver need only CLAIM to be offended, and by the very existence of that empty accusation -- sans any evidence -- an implication of "offense" is asserted -- and some people who are not paying attention will automatically assume that an "offense" has occurred whenever anyone is "offended."
Here's how that works:
"I am offended at your atrocious behavior." <-- Thus, to an outside observer, the natural reaction is that "someone must have behaved atrociously." Which is whole point of the propaganda: manipulating one's message to influence Public Perception — whether or not that message is really offensive, or aligns with the Facts at all.
An example of people Becoming Offended, to manipulate Public Perception, is demonstrated in the mascot name for the NFL team in Washington D.C. — Redskins!
In 2004 a poll by taken by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania; they found that only 9% of respondents who identify themselves as "Native Americans," considered the mascot-name for the NFL team to be "offensive." Whereas 90% of respondents were not bothered by the mascot-name "Redskins."
Truth is, on an Indian Reservation in Red Mesa Arizona there is a Native American High School that uses the name "Redskins" as their mascot. And in the State of Massachusetts, 40 High Schools have Indian-themed mascots, to include the Tewksbury High School "Redmen."
But here's the bottom-line for words that supposedly "slur." There are thousands of words in the English language that can be used with derogatory intent. Offensiveness is determined in those specific occasions where a specific person INTENDS to SLUR. And the words that is used, is almost irrelevant, because it is the INTENT in the heart of the SLURER that determines the SLUR.
Now, it is true that through historical use, certain words become known as "slur" words. Nevertheless, these same words can be used within other contexts without any "slur" meaning at all. Therefore INTENT is the final factor that determines a SLUR.
Did the Students and Administration at Red Mesa High School "intend" to SLUR themselves, when they chose "Redskins" as their mascot? Of course not. And within this particular context, the word "Redskins" has no derogatory meaning, but only a positive meaning. The same is true for the use of the term "Redskins" as the mascot for the NFL team in Washington D.C.
"Now the aim of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart,
"But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
"The words of a slanderer are as self-inflicted wounds, for they come from
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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