WORDS FROM WW June 18, 2009
“Conveying Our Bad Side”
Las Vegas has a pretty effective, as well as sleazy, ad campaign that uses the catch phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The idea is that you can come to “Sin City,” get caught up in some activities that you wouldn’t dare be involved in back home, and word of those activities will never leak out or back . . . to your bosses, spouses, or kids. Vegas is promoted as being a place where you can allow your “bad side” to live freely before returning to the real world.
Conveying our bad side has never been so popular! Taking care of our cravings has climbed the list of what seems to be acceptable behavior. I realize that there are many as well who try to hide their addictions and obsessions, and therefore don’t live authentically. That’s another situation for another article. “Bad sides,” however, in many people’s eyes are in!
But there’s a catch! What seems cool for the moment is beginning to have repercussions a little later on. For instance, employers are starting to ask potential new employees whether or not there is anything on their social networking communications (MySpace, Facebook, etc.) that shows bad decisions or inappropriate conversations. I’ve been amazed at some of the communications and photos that people put on Facebook. In other words, are there evidences of our “bad side” that could cause embarrassment to the employer down the road? Even “sexting” decisions are coming back to haunt young adults.
A report that came out last week from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism said that binge drinking in on the rise amongst college students. Dr. Marc Galanter of the New York University School of Medicine says, “The heavy drinking during college not only results in severe consequences at that time, but it also primes college students for later alcohol addiction. Heavier drinking at this age is a predictor of later alcoholism and is likely a major causative factor.”
During the college years, however, throwing down a few beers is conveyed as being the natural thing to do.
I think we’ve come to that point in our “freed” civilization where exhibiting a bad side is applauded and high-fived. It’s affirmed in the immediate without regard to the future.
Which brings me to another disturbing question! Is it becoming more acceptable, or should I say more encouraged, to promote one’s bad side than it is to be a person of high values and morals? Don’t misunderstand my question here. None of us are without fault. We all have checkered pasts and errors in judgment in the present, but are our errors being lifted up just short of exalted? I’m as “bad” as anyone else, but I guess I don’t trumpet it as a sign that I’ve arrived. Is “being a person of faith” something that now comes toward the bottom of a resume in small font? I fear that it is. The Bible talks a lot about persistence and perseverance. These days perseverance gets applauded in the Olympics and also the two-minute human interest stories at the end of the nightly news. It rarely makes the cut in the daily tough decisions of a person’s life.
We’re edging closer and closer to being a society that thinks it’s cool to live on the edge.
Speaking of edges and ledges and mountain tops, I think I’d like to write a book on how Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount might relate on a culture focused on our “bad side.” The problem is that it might show up at Barnes and Noble in the “humor” section . . . even if it wouldn’t be intended for that!
Pastor Bill
Highland Park Baptist Church

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