Criticism, faultfinding, evil speaking—these are of the spirit of the day. To hear tell, there is nowhere a man of integrity holding public office. All businessmen are crooks. The utilities are out to rob you. Even on campus there is heard so much the snide remark, the sarcastic jibe, the cutting down of associates—these, too often, are the essence of our conversation. In our homes, wives weep and children finally give up under the barrage of criticism leveled by abusive husbands and fathers. Criticism is the forerunner of divorce, the cultivator of rebellion, sometimes the catalyst that leads to failure. In the Church, it sows the seed of inactivity and finally apostasy.
I come to you tonight with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we try to "accentuate the positive." I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. Now I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man or woman who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his or her course.
What I am suggesting is that you turn from the negativism that so permeates our modern society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom you associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my wise father would say: "Cynics do not contribute. Skeptics do not create. Doubters do not achieve."
I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every time, because hip is short-term. Earnest is long-term.
Earnestness is highly underestimated. It comes from the core, while hip is trying to impress you with the surface.
"Hip" people love parodies. But there's no such thing as a timeless parody, is there? I have more respect for the earnest guy who does something that can last for generations, and that hip people feel the need to parody.
When I think of someone who is earnest, I think of a Boy Scout who works hard and becomes an Eagle Scout. When I was interviewing people to work for me, and I came upon a candidate who had been an Eagle Scout, I'd almost always try to hire him. I knew there had to be an earnestness about him that outweighed any superficial urges toward hipness.
Think about it. Becoming an Eagle Scout is just about the only thing you can put on your resume at age fifty that you did at age fourteen - and it still impresses.
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