A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Pollute


“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” That is perhaps the most famous statement by Malcolm X, the Muslim civil rights leader of the 1960’s. To be sure, there are multiple ways that one can waste his or her mind. It can be wasted by simply not using it, not training it. But a mind can also be wasted by packing it with useless information, or worse yet, packing it with things that are foolish and/or false. In this piece, I hope to encourage you to take care of your mind. It is a precious gift. I say, “a mind is a terrible thing to pollute”.

We live in an age where environmental pollution is a commonly stressed subject. Children are indoctrinated in our school systems from an early age about how important clean air and water are to us on planet Earth. Since 1970, our federal government has had a huge agency (the Environmental Protection Agency), currently employing about 17,000 full-time workers, devoted to this important cause.

Another huge federal government agency, the Food and Drug Administration, attempts to insure that ingested products are safe for consumption. This means that the mercury levels in the fish you buy must be below a certain number, the number of insect parts in your peanut butter or cereal must be below a certain number, and the number of maggots in your mushrooms must be below a certain number. I used to think that those numbers would be at zero, but they are not. They are just kept at “safe” levels. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Though we are very concerned about pollutants that can affect the health of our bodies, our world seems largely unconcerned about pollutants that enter through our eyes and ears, things that can create or contribute to an unhealthy mind. Our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech, or freedom of expression, has been used as legal justification for the proliferation of the porn industry and other adult sexual service enterprises. Though everyone should, many people, unfortunately, do not distinguish between legal and good.

Dear friend, you should be aware of this fact: There are many things in our world (books, audio or video material) that are unfit for human consumption at any age. Furthermore, there are many other things that a mature mind might take in (in limited quantity) without ill effect, things which might be quite damaging, however, to a child’s immature mind. For instance, watching episodes of the popular TV series CSI – with its graphic violence – should not be harmful to most adults, but allowing young children to watch such programs is irresponsible parenting in my opinion. The same goes for violent video games.

Scripture offers us a great filter for our eyes and ears in the little book of Philippians. It says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (4:8 NKJV emphasis mine). When we meditate on (think repeatedly on) things that are the opposite of the above, we should not be surprised to experience anxiety and/or depression along with sleep disturbances.

I hope you will take these matters seriously. Your mind is precious; it warrants your reasonable protection from pollutants that abound in this world. Someone shared in my Sunday school class years ago that he avoided watching news, choosing to read about it instead. He shared how the graphic nature of violence depicted is especially disturbing, not conducive to a restful night of sleep. My wife has shared about choosing to stop watching TV soap operas when – as a young woman – she realized that the script writers had portrayed sin as so apparently good that she was mentally supportive of it on the screen. Almost all sexual relations portrayed on TV and in the movies contradict the values of the Bible; if it is not rape, prostitution, or homosexuality, it is at least sex outside of marriage. And, if you are not mentally alert, you may find your mind becoming comfortable with thoughts and beliefs and values that should be foreign to our minds as Christians.

Once Jesus rebuked some religious leaders, calling them “blind guides“, leaders “who strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (MT 23:24). Our culture is dominated by leaders who “strain out the gnats” from our environment and food, while they encourage the “swallowing of camels” in the name of free-speech. Jesus also said, “If your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then, the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness” (MT 6:23). He was not referring to our physical eyes here, but rather the eyes of our hearts. Again, it seems that we exercise great care of our physical eyes, but are reckless with the eyes of our hearts. We are warned about looking directly into the sun or using certain power equipment without safety goggles. Where are the strong warnings about protecting the eyes of our hearts from foul input of the world around us?

Failure to exercise caution about what we allow to enter through our natural eyes – at least in part – allows the eyes of our heart to be damaged. And, just as physical blindness profoundly affects one’s whole life (not just the eyes), the loss of sight to the eyes our heart will darken our entire inner life. Indeed, “how great is that darkness“!

We adults would be wise to exercise caution about what we take in, and wise to monitor what our children take in. When a piece of entertainment is labeled PG, that doesn’t stand for “pretty good”; it is a call to parental action. Please practice wholesome mental hygiene in your life and home. Use that Philippians filter. Be your own censor.

Source by Dane Tyner

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