How Listening to Negative Voices Destroys Our Peace

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Imagine hearing this announcement when you start off each day: “Welcome to your own broadcasting show. We’re on the air today and every day. We run from this moment on, for the rest of your life. You can’t shut off the show, but you can choose what to hear. We advise you to choose wisely. Don’t be upset with yourself if the show is not proceeding the way you wish. Instead, thank your mind for working. Be nice and friendly to it. And kindly and respectfully ask your mind to give you a truly great show today. Have a fantastic day, today and every day.”

If the above represents what you would like to hear on your own mental show, then you can choose it. If you would like to run a different show, just choose what you would like to hear.

Your mental broadcast can have any guest you want. What do you want your inner mental guests to say to you? What do you want them to speak about? Choose the subject that you would like your self-talk to be about, for as long as you’d like. You might want to hear a great interview with yourself and your ideals and values. You might want to hear a certain song or many songs that uplift you and help you feel good. You might want to hear a well-known story over again. This could be a story with a lesson that you really need to hear right now. It could be an inspiring story. It could even be an entertaining or a funny story.

If you find yourself broadcasting distressful ideas and thoughts, you can switch to uplifting and joyous ones. You can give yourself messages of hope right now and at any time you choose.

When you listen to recordings of speakers or speeches you like, you can be grateful for the opportunity to add their messages to your own mental library. Once those recordings are stored in your brain, you can access them as often as you like.

Be grateful to the Creator of your mind and your life for giving you your own broadcasting show. The quality of your life depends on the quality of your inner broadcasting show. Keep raising the quality of what you say to yourself, and you will live a happier life, full of self-development and self-empowerment.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book: “Conversations With Yourself”, pp.185

Sorry for the long quote, but I think once again that Rabbi Pliskin makes an excellent point.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote lately as it relates to the tremendous amount of negativity we experience, not only from broadcasts on news and social media, but from life experiences as well.

Recently in my small little corner of southwestern Idaho, we had a tragedy were a person from Los Angeles living in a local apartment complex, targeted a child’s birthday party and stabbed nine people, six of them being children. The little girl who had been celebrating her third birthday died a few days after the assault.

It’s things like this that suck any sense of hope out of me.

But I can’t be like that. I mean, if you have faith in God, if you try, however badly, to follow in the footsteps of Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ), then you can’t just give up.

Believe me, I do have my days, though.

I’m a white, straight, “cisgender” (I still balk at that one for some reason), old, religious, conservative (relative to Idaho, I’m probably a moderate, but relative to hyper-liberal Seattle or San Francisco, I’m likely considered a fascist), married, Dad, Grandpa, male. In other words, for the pundits on twitter and Facebook, I’m public enemy number one, no questions asked.

Really, it’s like I’m not even a person anymore, just a “type.” In fact, it seems caring has stopped being about human beings, and is only conferred if those people belong to certain demographics.

Well, the little murdered girl I mentioned above was an immigrant from the middle east, and relative to the more liberal people who follow my doings on social media, when I posted about my outrage over her death, the only response I got was “crickets.”

I’m reminded of a quote from the original Star Trek series episode “The Immunity Syndrome (1968):

Spock (Leonard Nimoy): I’ve noticed that about your people, Doctor. You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million. You speak about the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours.

But let’s turn that around. Are we only to care about the suffering of large groups, but never individuals? Are we only to care about someone because they belong to a disadvantaged group, or can we still care because they’re human. Can’t we care because a single child needlessly lost her life? Why do only children separated from their parents at our southern border matter (and I’m not saying they don’t)?

ruya kadir
A 3-year-old girl died on Monday after suffering a fatal injury during her birthday party outside her family’s Boise apartment complex. (Idaho GOP/Twitter)

I think Picard (Patrick Stewart) once said something about the value of mourning the loss of a single life, but I can’t find the quote after a quick Google search.

Negative messages come in unabated from the news, from social media, and from all around us.

It’s overwhelming, and yes, it engenders a sense of hopelessness.

That’s why I’ve been thinking about the good Rabbi’s quote. I’m not forced to plug the internet into my head. I don’t have to read or listen to or watch negative, hateful, spiteful messages from the world around me. I’m responsible for my own programming and my own self-definition.

So are you.

You may have noticed that people of faith are an easy target for those who feel they hold the moral high ground and are on the “right side of history.” You also don’t have to listen to them. Unless they live with you or are otherwise unavoidable, you can just unplug them.

I don’t recommend doing that permanently. I think it’s important to listen to and understand opposing opinions (unlike those folks who are living in their “save space” or believe that all opposing opinions must immediately be shouted down as “violence” or “hate speech”).

I think we all know that a large part of our self-programming is reading and studying the Bible, and yet, the Bible isn’t as easily and quickly accessed as social media. Given the choice, most of us will choose “the quick and easy path,” to quote Yoda when he discussed the Dark Side of the Force with Luke.

While we can’t ignore the world around us, we can take breaks from it. We can turn off the television, our computers, our smartphones, and otherwise turn off all of the negative, disheartening voices that are ever eager to attempt to overwrite us with their version of justice and morality.

In other words, if you are a negative voice in my life, I can turn you off and restore my peace of mind and spirit.

Human beings who feel like they are the final source for all morality, righteousness, mercy, and justice are terrifying, because believing that, they’re capable of any act, no matter how unjust and cruel, in their name of their own ego, or worse, the ego and highly flexible morals and values of the human race.

I know we religious people are accused of doing the same thing in the name of God, but as an Aish HaTorah Rabbi reminds us, religion is sometimes misused by selfish, greedy people, just as attacks on our faith are also a misuse and misapplication of the true nature of scripture and God.

If we continue to strive to become better disciples of our Rav, whatever part of us that may be guilty of what we are sometimes accused of must fall away. We can remake ourselves through our faith and allow the Spirit to remake us so that we more resemble our Rav in thoughts and deeds.

True, we will still be accused of all manner of crimes simply because of who we are or because someone once did something bad and claimed God told him or her to do it, but that’s not us. It’s not who we are.

We cannot communicate the sense of peace we achieve through our faith and the merit of our Rav if we allow outside influences to throw us into chaos. We can only communicate peace by being peaceful, and here’s the rub:

When people are in emotional pain, they tend to speak and act in ways that sound angry and aggressive. And if you, too, are in emotional pain, you are likely to speak to the other person in ways that he will perceive as angry and aggressive. Each person adds to the emotional pain of the other, and the distress of everyone involved keeps increasing.

When you are calm, it’s easier to see the emotional pain of others. That is when you can build up your attribute of compassion. The goal is to have so much compassion that even when you personally are experiencing emotional pain, you are able to be sensitive to the emotional pain of the person with whom you are interacting.

Coming from a place of compassion you will be able to address the thoughts and feelings of the other person in a way that alleviates his distress. Then he is more likely to speak and act more sensibly and reasonably towards you.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book: Harmony with Others, p.130

When people are angry at us for whatever reason, and we feel pain because if their behavior, we must understand they are in pain, too. Being in pain doesn’t justify unkind, cruel, and unjust responses, and we don’t have to let ourselves be mischaracterized, but it might be a good idea to get past the other person’s anger and discover their pain. Then we’ll have a much better platform on which to build communication.

peaceTake care of yourself. Associate with like-minded believers so that you can support each other. Try (and this is difficult) not to reflexively react when someone in person or (more likely) in social media insults you, either individually or because you belong to some “type” they don’t like, don’t understand, or have been conditioned to despise.

We’re here to help make the world a better place, but if we let the world tear us down, we will have failed.

It starts with being grounded in the Word and in our Rav. His peace can be ours. It just takes a lot of practice.

Try unplugging sometime. I think it will help. It does me.

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18 thoughts on “How Listening to Negative Voices Destroys Our Peace”

  1. I agree and if this type of violence occurs in Idaho, it is truly horrible. Tuning out news has to be a choice if I want to get up in t h ed morning with hope.

  2. Indeed, although I don’t encourage a “head in the sand,” approach. We can’t share our faith with the world if we’re constantly hiding from it.

  3. You may have noticed that people of faith are an easy target for those who feel they hold the moral high ground and are on the “right side of history.” You also don’t have to listen to them. Unless they live with you or are otherwise unavoidable, you can just unplug them.
    [Notice, “safe space” is okay there.]

    I don’t recommend doing that permanently. I think it’s important to listen to and understand opposing opinions (unlike those folks who are living in their “save space” or believe that all opposing opinions must immediately be shouted down as “violence” or “hate speech”).

    ….

    While we can’t ignore the world around us, we can take breaks from it. We can turn off the television, our computers, our smartphones, and otherwise turn off all of the negative, disheartening voices that are ever eager to attempt to overwrite us with their version of justice and morality.

    In other words, if you are a negative voice in my life, I can turn you off and restore my peace of mind and spirit.

    Human beings who feel like they are the final source for all morality, righteousness, mercy, and justice are terrifying, because believing that, they’re capable of any act, no matter how unjust and cruel, in their name of their own ego, or worse, the ego and highly flexible morals and values of the human race.

    I know we religious people are accused of doing the same thing in the name of God, but as an Aish HaTorah Rabbi reminds us, religion is sometimes misused by selfish, greedy people, just as attacks on our faith are also a misuse and misapplication of the true nature of scripture and God.

    If we continue to strive to become better disciples of our Rav, whatever part of us that may be guilty of what we are sometimes accused of must fall away. We can remake ourselves through our faith and allow the Spirit to remake us so that we more resemble our Rav in thoughts and deeds.

    True, we will still be accused of all manner of crimes simply because of who we are or because someone once did something bad and claimed God told him or her to do it, but that’s not us. It’s not who we are.

    It might not be who you are, but you might do well to stop associating yourself to them. I for example, was just banned from a Christian website for sharing a Messianic link.

    Thousands of (historical) years in “safe” space for them.

    They supposedly permit Messianics, but mostly people who conform to the “health and wealth” t.v. caricatures.

    People of “faith” are not all on a par [true faith is not the same as or even like “word of faith” common evangelicalism]. Many Messianic people understand this (as do Jews).

    { Incidentally, I don’t know what this pc stance about you being picked on has to do with the violent occurrence in your area.

    I did a search and didn’t immediately find the most recent news on this topic because there are a number of violent deaths in the state that come up. I did eventually find this, though:
    Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Dan Dinger said in court Monday that Kinner has exhibited aggressive behavior while in jail. He cited two incident reports: one in which Kinner was threatening staff and another in which he was endangering himself and others.

    In court, Kinner requested to represent himself, but Comstock said he would assign Kinner a public defender for now.

    “Do you understand what you’ve been charged with now, sir?” Comstock asked.

    “No, no sir,” Kinner replied.

    “What don’t you understand?” the judge asked.

    “I don’t understand none of this, sir,” Kinner said.

    The jail roster lists Kinner’s city of residence as Los Angeles, but Dinger at the court hearing said Kinner was homeless …

    This man is totally messed up. }

  4. Then again, I also disagreed that Donald Trump is “at the right hand” of the LORD in heaven. (That is, I dared question t.v. darling Pat Robertson — while my point of view agreed with the site’s statement of faith in the matter of said substance. Statements are too often only statements, not lives. Not real, integrated thought.)

    They will go on associating with like-minded people, I guess people who like flashy television church. People who like starting threads about why “the Jews reject the Messiah.” People who can’t abide a site with historical information on the bending of what church should teach and, not only teach in words, enforce by the sword.

  5. First, James, my hat’s off to you for the number of science fiction references. Nicely done.

    Second, man, did I need to read this today. I shared a thought that was not well received by several people. It was not, to me, a controversial thought in any way. Now the pot is stirred and I’m trying to figure out what to do in the swirling. I think I’ll just take a break for a bit.

  6. James quoted: When you listen to recordings of speakers or speeches you like, you can be grateful for the opportunity to add their messages to your own mental library. Once those recordings are stored in your brain, you can access them as often as you like.

    After I posted, yesterday, I found a video I had never seen before of Mark Nanos speaking to a college class. It made me happy. Such people seem to be so rare these days. People who cared about the people they were “lecturing” to, and about the subject matter on a constructive level, were fairly common in the past. [Still, he’s unique.]

  7. Maybe someone else will enjoy it too? I am greatful, like you said.

    Mark Nanos, “Paul’s Relationship to Jews
    and Judaism in First-Century Context,”
    Mar. 24, 2014 Westmont College

    James said: I think we all know that a large part of our self-programming is reading and studying the Bible…

  8. Hi James, I stumbled across your site yesterday and have read and enjoyed several of your posts.

    My religious views started to change when I got into the New Perspective on Paul, and more recently I’m finding the Paul Within Judaism perspective convincing.

    Needless to say, these changes are making it hard for me to justify attending a Christian church every Sunday and raising my children with the beliefs that I grew up with as a conservative Christian.

    With all that being said, I’ve never seriously considered becoming a Gentile believer as Paul (and probably Jesus) would have defined it. And as I read your posts, I waver between admiring your faith in Jesus’ coming back to reign and feeling sorry for you. (I hope this doesn’t offend you because my intent is just to be transparent, not hurtful.)

    I don’t know if you allow links in comments, but I’ll put it here to give you an idea of where I’m at, and, of course, you can always delete it: http://www.simmondses.com/2017/09/10/was-jesus-a-failed-prophet/

    To be perfectly honest, there are days when I waver between solution #2 and solution #7 although you couldn’t know that just from reading my post.

    Some days I wish I had the assurances I was raised with, but other days I’m glad I left that tradition and see no way my mind could ever re-embrace those ideas.

    So I wonder, how do you keep your faith, 2000 years later, that Jesus will return. (Most of my life I thought it was reasonable to just keep pushing it off into the future and using quotations like “a thousand years is like a day,” but I now see this as a desperate apologetic.)

  9. I’ve just had a chance to scan that page and will give it a more thorough look in a bit. Yes, I can be a bit whiny with the mood strikes me. I write, both here and on my “Robots” fiction blog, to process thoughts and feelings, trying to get them straight, so in many ways it’s more for my own sake than anyone else’s. That said, I’m gratified when I craft something that touches someone else’s life.

    I don’t consider Jesus (or Rav Yeshua, if you will) a failed prophet, although Paul did expect him to return within his lifetime or soon after, and in fact, I think he’s being very patient. He could have come at any time in history and meted out judgment, but I think he’s continuing to give us “second chances” (I have no idea how many we’re really up to by now). I also think the conditions have to be right for all the nations of the world to turn against Israel (and there had to be a modern state of Israel for that prophesy to be fulfilled). Every generation of believers (and probably Jews) say, “This is it. This is when Jesus (Messiah) returns (comes).

    And even if somehow our faith isn’t justified, living the life the Bible commands isn’t a bad life, and in fact, is a better life than most people have in terms of righteousness, spirituality, and morality. I’m not saying I don’t believe, just that even if you’re leaning towards #2, maybe it’s okay to still behave as if it’s more like #7.

  10. Your comment at the end really resonates with me: “Even if you’re leaning towards #2, maybe it’s okay to still behave as if it’s more like #7.”

    This is basically where I’m at, but some days it feels disingenuous…

  11. Our faith can’t be as plastic as our moods, otherwise it isn’t faith. Faith endures the dark times of our souls, and believe me, I’ve had plenty.

  12. I apologize for not reading all the comments above which may cover some of this. To me the key to Rabbi Pliskin’s quote is the notion that God gave us free will, the ability to know right from wrong, and to act on it. It is up to us, people of the creation, to achieve our Godly potential by working together, educating ourselves, and leveraging the brain that life gives us to improve mankind. Working to reduce violence in this country and everywhere would be a start.

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