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Mississippi & Pride Burning

May 1st, 2009

Focus Passage: Proverbs 14: 3 (NLT)

3 A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him,
      but the words of the wise keep them safe.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead 

I am reminded of a powerful movie that came out some time ago called Mississippi Burning.  It starred Gene Hackman and William Defoe and it was based on a true story of racism in 1964 Mississippi.  It is by no means a choice for younger viewers; however, it is probably a pretty accurate representation of the atrocities that African Americans were experiencing in the midst of a nationwide civil rights movement.  

Very few areas of the nation were as far behind in these realms of social reform than the deep South.  As the movie depicts, the law enforcement and judicial systems were often corrupted with plots to let heinous and inhumane crimes go unpunished.  Young, innocent black men were killed by violent lynchings.  Young women were raped and abused.  All the while, the police officers, state elected officials, and judges of the community turned blind eyes and deaf ears to the plight of the afflicted.

Finally, heads began to turn towards these deeds of violence when a few white civil rights activists were brutally murdered by some police officers.  This unleashed a full-out FBI investigation into these matters.  In the end, the culprits were brought to some semblance of justice because they had not only committed the illegal acts, but had also bragged about their actions to a multitude of witnesses.  Literally, their own words were the greatest evidence against them.

Such is the truth of this passage: “A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe.”  How often as a teacher did I decipher the truth of a matter solely because the culprit in question just couldn’t keep his or her mouth shut about their exploits.  Hundreds, no doubt.  It seems to be human nature that those who do foolish things are most the likely to tell the world about them.

I’m on a mission to learn the art of discretion.  My pastor and mentor calls it “the reveal.”  In other words, he lives by the philosophy that when we tell everyone everything we are planning or doing, then we have shown them our entire hand prematurely.  Just think about it . . . now if our plans don’t come to full fruition in a timely fashion, we give the impression of failure.  All that may be needed is more time or an adjustment of strategy, but instead we have to backpedal and seemingly renege on our plans.  It’s an issue of pride and self-control.

Now obviously we’re talking about two separate things here.  One is the proud talk of the foolish, as demonstrated by those crooked policemen in Mississippi Burning.  The other is the proud talk of those pursing wisdom . . . letting out information before it has time to ripen on the vine of planning and pursuit.  Two different scenarios that point to one key truth: speak less and from a humble heart.

Yeah, those sound easy enough . . . well, actually not at all.  But we can begin somewhere. How about today?













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