Tag Archives: courtesy

“Shaky? Nauseous? Pale? Oh, You Turned Off Your Cell Phone!”

 

Face it. More than a few of us are addicts. For all addicts, the first step toward recovery is summed up in one word: honesty. That means admitting we have a problem.

And we do. Nomophobia. That’s the official name for cell phone addiction. The term actually means “no mobile phone fear.” Of course, a phobia is an irrational or excessive fear. And “no mobile phone” means, in this context, that the digital device might be (Careful! I warn you, these are terrifying prospects!) lost, misplaced, turned off, battery dying or depleted, left at the house or office or in the car, etc.

The designers of these devices and their “apps” have long been aware of their addictive potential. Of course, the design folks work their techno-magic to the best advantage for their company or advertisers to keep us checking, glued to, enslaved by, the devices we own that too easily own us.

The actual research regarding what happens in our brains, and, more sobering, the brains of our kids, when we/they feel a deep need to be constantly on or checking our phones or apps is as interesting as it is troubling.

In a Business Insider article by Madeleine Stowe (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-nomophobia-2014-7), Dr. David Greenfield, a leading expert in this arena, says that when we get a notification from our phones, an elevation in dopamine occurs in our brains. Dopamine is “a neurotransmitter” that “regulates the brain’s reward system” and is a key component in all addictions. Who knows? That notification might be something gratifying or important, and so, for our brains, our cell phones become the miniature slot machines we are compulsively checking as our brain wants a payout, a fix, a reward.

“Google” this, if you dare: “signs you are addicted to your phone.” And get ready to be uncomfortable. You’ll find a bunch of articles on “10 Signs” or “25 Signs” and most of us don’t need nearly that many to fail (or be nailed by) the test miserably. If you’re a little nauseated or ticked off by the prospect of looking at such an article, I rest my case. Maybe “1 Sign” will suffice.

We might also just try some simple experiments.

*Keep a log of how many times a day we check our phones.

*Notice how often we are phubbing others (“phubbing” is “phone snubbing” and there’s no courteous way to do it) by focusing on our phones, disregarding, and thus demeaning the people around us.

*Eat a meal with our phone off, put away, or throttled all the way down. I mean, really, is it vital for most of us non-emergency personnel to have our phones at the table during a meal—or is it just one more proof of addiction? Care about teaching your kids manners, parents? Teach them about this—and show them. Please!

I actually heard of a church recently where social media access is electronically blocked on their campus. Good!

Speaking of social media, here’s a way to get a daily dopamine fix by playing a game of chance. How about for a week or two or 52, flipping a coin each morning? Tails? No Facebook or other social media today. Faces? I mean, heads? Scroll your heart out, all a-twitter that day, as much as you want! How much courage/discipline would that test take from addicts like us? Probably more than we have. Still it’d be well worth a try.

Lots of blessings become curses—even idols—if we don’t use them wisely, throttle them back, give them away, quit bowing before them, or, in this case, just regularly turn them off.

One God is enough.

Note: I do not recommend tossing this column at your spouse or others—or whimsically sending it to their phone. 1) Addicts are easily angered, even dangerous. 2) Self-righteousness is as bad as addiction.

 

        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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A Vice President-Elect, a Theater, and an Ambush

 

hamilton-boo

When Vice President-elect Mike Pence walked into the theater to watch the Broadway play Hamilton recently, he was not Abraham Lincoln and it was not Ford’s Theatre, but Mr. Pence walked into an ambush. He might have smelled trouble immediately upon entering. The air was thick with self-righteousness.

The actions of the booing and churlish crowd are utterly indefensible upon any grounds. If as a child I’d been caught in such behavior, my mother, unhampered by “progressive” ideas, would have delivered a speech and a liberally applied spanking to a son she refused to let grow up as a boor and a brat.

That the speech prepared beforehand by the cast to be delivered to Vice President-elect Pence was civilly presented means that the ambush was a tad less brutal than most. But it was still an ambush, premeditated and perpetrated by hosts upon a guest in their “home.”

The backdrop, of course, was the recent election. Columnist George Will well describes its outcome: “a loser who deserved to lose and a winner who did not deserve to win.”

But we did have an election. And we did have an outcome. And it is high time to behave.

I find myself wondering what it would have been like to be singing or preaching at a venue in which, some eight years ago, Vice President-elect Biden was in attendance. I’m not a fan. But I honestly cannot imagine ambushing the man in a theater or church where I had any control. If the crowd started booing him, I can easily imagine delivering a speech—but it would not be to him.

Self-righteousness short-circuits civility, and brutish arrogance is no more the temptation of the right than it is the left.

Whether we lean right or left, it’s no surprise when our most seriously held political opinions become so entwined with our moral convictions that it’s hard to separate them. At times, they can’t be separated and shouldn’t be. At other times, more often than we think, they can and should. At all times, demonizing those we disagree with is only effective if we wish to become demons.

I well remember listening to a sermon presented by a seriously left-leaning guest preacher at a church I was visiting. He prefaced his comments by expressing a desire for us to understand that he was not being political; he was just standing for God’s truth. I had no trouble imagining a right-leaning preacher at a church down the street stepping into a pulpit and giving exactly the same preface. Both would pass lie detector tests as both prepared to preach their politics.

I’m sure the audience members booing VP-elect Pence in that theater felt that the gravity of the moral injustice just perpetrated in the election, and the more serious evils they are sure will soon be unleashed, made their behavior justifiable, even necessary. In a different time and a different theater, perhaps their equally zealous counterparts on the opposite side might feel the same way. Both would be wrong.

And for Christians the question is as always: how would our Lord behave? What would he say?

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Here’s a Great Measuring Stick for Character

 

RMS Queen Elizabeth

I wasn’t looking for anything profound, just enjoying a good book, a great story, and a quiet meal when I stumbled across a little nugget of wisdom. Sometimes what is profoundly wise reaches out and grabs us unexpectedly. Well, yes, we think, that is so true, so true that we’re a little surprised we hadn’t thought of it or put it into words ourselves. But we recognize the ring of truth and “Amen” it with a whispered, “Yes, that’s right!”

And here’s the glittering nugget of truth I mined during lunch that day, from the pen of J. K. Rowling: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

Well, what do you think?

I think the truth in that statement will rarely ever steer you wrong.

If you want to take the measure of your weight, scales are available.

If you want to take the measure of your height, a variety of measuring sticks and devices exist for just such a task.

And if you really want to take the measure of a person’s character, maybe the very best yard stick is this one: How does he or she treat their “inferiors”? (This measure is one serious reason I find what will likely be the choice we face in our nation’s next presidential election disgusting, repulsive, appalling, and add your own bleak adjectives. Pick a finger you’d most like to smash with a sledge hammer. That sort of choice.)

But before we start measuring somebody else’s character with this particular stick, we’d be well-advised to use it first to measure our own.

How do we treat those who are weaker or smaller, poorer or less educated, less socially prominent or less popular than ourselves? The answer says a great deal about who we are really.

Maybe they are employees. Family members. Community members. Or just folks we meet at the store, in the Post Office, or down the street.

As the story goes (I’ve long ago lost the source), maritime painters were putting yet another coat of paint on the huge smoke funnels of a great luxury ocean liner. Was it RMS Queen Elizabeth? Something of that class. They were amazed to discover that the actual metal had invisibly deteriorated in many places to such an extent that multiple layers of paint were about the only real substance holding the funnels together!

When our lives are weighed in the balance, when the external and largely illusory societal facade of houses, cars, bank accounts, etc., fades into the background, and when all that’s left, or not, of the real framework of our lives is something called character—something that the poorest person on this planet can possess in rich measure and the richest person on the planet, if he lacks it, can’t buy at any price—what will be left?

Do we really want to know?

We can. We measure our own character every time we interact with those “below” us.

I’m thankful the Lord loved those below him—the lame, the blind, the deaf, the poor, the sinful—those who could never put him in their debt. And add to that list your name and mine. Then let’s ask ourselves how we deal with those “below” us. We’ll never find a better measuring stick for character.

Character matters. All the more when we live amidst so many folks who deny that it does.

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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