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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Power of Words – Part 2

If you’ve spent any time around a computer, you understand the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” which basically means that if you input lousy data or content you can expect to get a lousy output. This concept of “garbage in, garbage out” surrounds us in life.

I used to work in a radio newsroom where one of the favorite sayings of the news director was, “You can’t turn chicken poop into chicken salad.” This is certainly a more colorful way of restating the “garbage” axiom, albeit much less appetizing.

However, we do try to convey the “input/output” rule to our kids about food with the message, “You are what you eat.” In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent millions of dollars developing and promoting its food pyramid supporting healthy nutrition. The main idea behind it being that healthier food intake produces healthier physical outputs or results.

Even during the early auditions for each season of “American Idol,” you can tell immediately the “performers” who shouldn’t be there.

No matter how great their back-up singers, their band, the lyrics or audio engineer may be – some would-be singers have low-quality voices (coupled with tone-deafness), which produces a gratingly, low-grade assault on the ears

Each of these examples proves that we know and fully understand this concept of “garbage in, garbage out.”
Yet, we somehow seem to forget this truth regarding our primary, individual output – namely our every day speech.

If we pour into our eyes, ears, hearts and minds the media’s unending stream of sexist, racist, profane, violent and coarse content (e.g. violent video games, movies, books, music…etc.), what do we expect the output will be to our families and friends???

Garbage in, garbage out - period.

This is an unescapable principle of life that dates back thousands of years before the invention of the “idiot box,” Internet or iPad as captured in the book of Luke chapter 6, verse 45:

“The good person brings good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and the evil person brings evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

It was true then and it’s still true today. So, I’ll strive to be more mindful of each mouthful of words I use – at least for today, while I’m thinking of it.

What suggestions might you have to sustain our desire for positive outputs and words?


  1. Great blog. Because of the "Garbage in, Garbage out" principle, my family gave up cable television to use the old fashioned over-the-air style to the shocked gasps of my neighbors.

    I'm think I'll also keep the quality up by reading more Torcon.

  2. @Chris, I applaud your decision to go "cable free." You know, all of the really successful people I know watch very little television - I'm sure a study would be very revealing about the inverse correlation between hours spent watching tv and fulfilment in life. Thanks so much for your kind words and taking the time to comment. It's always better to dialogue with someone else!

  3. It sounds so corny, I know, but it's true: the more I read my Bible and avoid the TV, the more positive and effective my attitude becomes. I equate it to going to the gym. Getting started and developing a routine can be very daunting and uncomfortable at first, but it's amazing how gratifying it is to persist and develop a taste for God's word.

    I like the way the apostle Paul put it:

    And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. - Philippians 4:8

  4. @Larry, I think you made a great point about about equating exercise for the body with exercising the spirit. Both require discipline and commitment. That passage from Philippians is one of my favorites - thanks so much for sharing and elevating the discussion!