Tell yourself what to think

There was a time when ships were built of wood, because it was commonly believed that in order to float they had to be built of materials lighter than water. In spite of this common theory, the smart money, believed that ships could be built of iron and still float. 

The leading shipbuilder of the day stated that ships built of iron could not float because iron would not float; he proved his point by throwing a horseshoe into a tub of water. The people watched it sink and they believed him. However, if you think about it, he devised this demonstration based on his biased opinion (that iron will not float); the result predicted the hypothesis. How I know this to be true is because if he believed ships should be built of iron he would have thrown a steel washbasin in the water.

I bring up this story because too often we listen to people like the shipbuilder who have an agenda or who have only chosen one way to look at things. Too many times we listen to them and base important decisions in our life on the way they think, instead of the way we think.

Doesn’t that often happen to you young people today? You are bombarded with stories on today’s “kids.” You hear how bad other young people are and all of the things that will lead this next generation to ruin. Unfortunately, you rarely hear about all of the good young people are capable of doing and actually do. So many have agendas out there and so often we listen to them. If you are told that youth are bad or that you are a loser, eventually we come to believe it! It would certainly be a depressing world if we believed all that is said about this next generation. I can only imagine how you must feel!

This all came to mind this week as we prepared for the return of the students at UMass Dartmouth, specifically our Peer Leadership team of 12 students who arrived early on campus to finalize their training and to welcome and work with our Novus candidates — freshman who arrived early on campus for a two-day transition program. What a wonderful group of students, who give me such confidence, that a faith-filled life can be lived by our young people and they are a fun bunch too! 

The life of a college student is filled with study and activity and choices. In many cases they have so many choices that they just can’t fit all that they wish to do in their schedules. Sometimes God is pushed aside. Novus is designed to help them “do it all,” while continuing to maintain a faith life on campus. Following Novus, our peer leaders will then conduct a five-week faith-sharing group program with our Catholic freshman to help them continue to settle in on campus. Our young people are the Church of today, and it is alive and well on our campus and in our diocese! 

So how does today’s young person have it and still live a life based on the teachings of Christ? I believe that what each of us needs is an internal filter that will help us determine what is true and what is biased and not worthy of our thoughts. To me that internal filter, of course, is God. If we filter all that we see and hear through the eyes and ears of faith, then we will be better able to filter out the junk messages. Each and every day we still hear about all of the stars or celebrities that make unbelievably stupid mistakes in judgment and hopefully we ask “How can they do that?” rather than, “How can I be more like them?” Although the phrase “What would Jesus do?” has become so commercialized, I feel it is still the question that we should ask ourselves when we encounter an important situation that requires us to make an important decision.

If you think about it, today everybody is still trying to tell us what to think even though these people do not know much more than we do. Through social media we are even more bombarded with messages that try to prove that this way of thinking or that way of thinking is OK and acceptable because they say, or a majority, say it is. Woe to us should we disagree with something that we find morally unacceptable! Keep in mind, if the past is any indicator, these “shapers” build a set of assumptions that fit their desired results most of the time. Remember, we have our own moral compass that is based on the teachings of Christ. 

So, the moral of this story? Most everyone is biased or motivated in one direction or another, and, as a result, we should think for ourselves and not be overly swayed by what people push upon us. Simply put — only you can tell yourself what to think and do, following your own moral compass!  

Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 36 years, Kristine, and the father of two married daughters, and a six-month-old grandson. Comments, ideas or suggestions? Please email him at DeaconFrankLucca@comcast.net. 

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