Under the Influence

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought.” Dwight D Eisenhower

We are influenced every day. From the simple act of passing people in the hall-who can encourage us with their warm greeting or cause a shudder of cold isolation as they ignore or disdainfully look at us- to placing ourselves under the direct tutelage of a teacher.

It is nice to select a mentor to provide influence. Someone who inspires you or encourages you to be the best that you can be. Someone who reminds you that you can do what ever is placed in your journey. Someone whom you trust that you believe will be at your back when times become rough.

Unfortunately, there are many who don’t get to choose their constant companions: children and prisoners of war come to mind. They both arrived in their situation by no fault of their own. My particular concern in this blog is the influence to children. They are young and cannot take care of them selves. Their developing minds are easily bent toward what is put into them.

Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention clearly advocate the need to control what is put into a person’s mind.  Timothy George wrote an article where he advocated, “May God give us again Baptist families and Baptist churches who will take seriously the awesome responsibilities of indoctrinating our children in the things of God.” (http://centerforbaptiststudies.org/pamphlets/freedom/sbc.htm) Adrian Rogers, past Southern Baptist Convention President said while discussing the need for the seminary professors to teach as they were told, said “If we say pickles have souls, they better teach pickles have souls.”  (same source)  

Being ‘under the influence’ is dangerous. It creates an altered state of consciousness or reality. We say people are under the influence when they have had too much to drink, or taken drugs. Their thinking process is interrupted. They cannot process information as they would otherwise.

So it is with being indoctrinated. That is not the enjoyment of receiving the influence of someone that you respect, or art that you enjoy. Indoctrination is forced on you and it steals your ability to reason. It is challenging to have a discussion with someone who is under the influence-you go around and around in circles and arrive nowhere.

So how do we stop the dangers of indoctrination and the state of being under the influence. In the drinking and drugs scenario, we have laws that provide safe thresholds. As communities we attempt to provide education on the proper way to balance drinking or taking appropriate doses of medication. But in thinking, we seem to leave people on their own.

I think education and discussion is the key. Exposing new ideas, or new approaches to life broadens a person’s awareness. I know it did for me. I advocate that we have more dinner conversations, more open classrooms and less isolation. Let people discover for themselves the beauty of living and the joy of embracing their own life journey.


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