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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Wonders of the Mute Button

Photo by: Ambro

Robert Adler and Eugene Polley, engineers with Zenith Electronics Corporation jointly invented the television remote control, complete with a mute button.1 We owe them our gratitude! In our house, we really use our mute button. We mute obnoxious ads, rock and discordant music, and unpleasant news that we don’t care to hear. We mute so often that our son-in-law teases us that we must lip-read!

Did you ever want a mute button to use on people? Oh, I have! Blah, blah, blah, blah or worse: gossip, or its relative, negativity.

Long ago, we were flying across the ocean, and a woman behind us was speaking very loudly with a strident voice. She told the person next to her—and the whole plane—everything about her children. I mean everything—too much information. She talked about her marriage, about her husband and his job, and about the trip she was taking. The 100 decibel talk went on and on and so very loudly that anyone who understood English would have gotten the low-down on every single detail of their lives. Her children were with her and running all over the plane. She would take a breath to call their names. One was “Mary Belle.”2 (We’ll never forget!) I rejoiced that this woman finally got quiet (for a little while) when they put the movie on. Whew! What I would have done for a remote control for her, back then!

“Did you know that so-and-so did such and such?” “No, and please don’t tell me about it.” Gossip. It doesn’t help the subject, the teller, or the listener. It’s a lose, lose, losing situation. Wouldn’t it be great to have a zapper for gossips? Press the mute, and they can’t say a thing! Terrific! I wish I could get one for Christmas!

Since we can’t mute people, second best is to tell the person spreading gossip that you don’t want to hear it, thank you. If you’ve already heard a juicy detail, don’t spread the rumor. When people say negative things about others, it reflects on the teller’s character. Not good! Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell (James 3:5-6).

It’s great to live by the Golden Rule: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them (Matthew 7:12a). How do you want to be talked about? That’s the way to talk about others—if you need to at all.

Much of what people comment on is none of their business in the first place! Do you need to voice an opinion on the subject? Probably not. Is it someone else’s business? You don’t need to comment. Were you asked to express an opinion? If so, in answering, will you be helping someone? If not, it’s better not to respond or to respond in a very general manner so as not to really say anything.

Negativity. “How are you, Mrs. Smith?” “Oh, my arthritis is killing me. My back has never been worse. My kidneys are acting up, and I could swear I have carpal tunnel in my right hand. Awful, just awful.” Sorry you asked.

The negative person might be a complainer like my fictional Mrs. Smith, or she may be someone who finds the dark side of every issue. Everyone is against her. Every happening is a conspiracy. Every detail of her day is bad news. Poor her!

I think it’s interesting to contrast the negative person with someone filled with the Spirit. The Christian who is walking with the Lord is full of praise. His situation might be the pits, but he is joyful. The Apostle Paul is a great example. He was in prison, deprived of comforts, yet his soul was rejoicing in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:4, 6, 11).

Did you know the Bible speaks of a “mute button” for our mouths? For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (1 Peter 3:10).

Need some “batteries” in your remote? Get Divine help. Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).

And, what should we speak about? And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11).

  1. Associated Press, February 17, 2007, obituary of Robert Adler.
  2. Not her real name, to protect the child.

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