Walden by Henry David Thoreau was published in 1854. The concepts contain therein are timeless. It is well worth the read. For example: “It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember. If I am to be a thoroughfare, I prefer that it be of the mountain brooks, the Parnassian streams, and not the town sewers.”
The mouth is a thoroughfare. Henry David writes of what comes out of one’s mouth. The first century rabbi, Jesus said: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” A few decades later a man name Paul wrote to friends in Colossae who were experiencing all kinds of dissension and travail that one step toward peace in the community is to “get rid of wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.”
Why is that so difficult to do? The ancient prophet pointed in the right direction when he said: “Out of the heart come evil intentions, false witness, slander.” Put simply, the heart of the matter is the heart. Our core values are demonstrated with words and actions. If the latter is divisive and destructive, producing disharmony and angst, then some figurative heart surgery is likely in order.
How we think, what we believe, is not easy to change. The beginning key is an openness to possibilities other than those I might consider inviolable. Questioning with a genuine attitude that one might have something new to learn can certainly lead to an affirmation of core values. But it also might lead to life-changing new ways of thinking and acting.
Over the years my understandings have changed in some dramatic ways . . . which I believe is for the better. It never would have happened if I had refused to consider things contrary to what I had been taught by some to be the only right way to think. To line up the two properly, I need every morning to look in the mirror and say: “Randy, get your heart and your mouth in line.”