I’ve “written”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=8 about this before but a “comment”:http://open-dialogue.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1583#1583 in an on-going “discussion”:http://open-dialogue.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=114 has brought it to mind again.
Talk is so very cheap. It’s easy to declare a belief but never back it up with associated actions. It’s simple to make a promise to someone, yet never follow through with it. It’s very easy to say things that you have absolutely no intention of ever putting into practice. It’s simply easy to let the “tongue wag”:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%203:5-6;&version=31 on both ends. Few people know what it means to control what they say, let alone have the discipline to back their words with deeds that prove them. (We’re seeing that right now in the Muslim community, who proclaim to be a people of peace yet react with violence over political cartoons.)
William Shatner points to this in his poem/song “I Can’t Get Behind That” when he complains about people who demand that you say what they say and do what they do for your own good – or they’ll kill you. It’s this phenomenon that people are so quick to shout about called ‘being a hypocrite.’ It’s saying one thing and then doing another, and it is this doing another thing that invalidates the saying of the one thing. It destroys the credibility of the speaker, who loses his audience’s respect. By saying one thing and then doing another, you make yourself into a liar, and as so many of our politicians and (unfortunately) our religious leaders have so aptly demonstrated, no one trusts a liar. You are, in fact, far more likely to induce the opposite reaction from the one that you want. People see a liar, a hypocrite, a man whose words are rendered meaningless by his actions, and in order to disassociate themselves as much as possible from him and so escape falling under the umbrella of _his_ guilt, they often react by swinging to the opposite extreme. It is a serious thing to say something or make a promise and then not incorporate that into your life.
It is so important for lifestyle to match discourse, particularly if you hope to have an influence on those around you. Christians often get a bad rap because they speak and preach one thing and then find themselves guilty of the very weaknesses against which they speak out. The trouble with so many people, Christian or not, is that their lifestyles are often inconsistent with their beliefs and their words, as actions are usually the best indicator of actual beliefs. (Psychological studies have shown that people tend to live the way they really believe, regardless of what things they say.)
Intellectual exercise is a good thing, in my opinion, as this blog and my “forum”:http://www.open-dialogue.com can attest, but if the intellectual lessons never reach our way of life, in the end it does absolutely no good.