From Jim O'Brien
October 28, 2016

Hi Friend,

Controlling the Tongue

Getting through airport terminals can be cumbersome enough but for a young mother with a toddler in tow it can be a major task. and pushing a baby carriage it's a massive struggle to carry the luggage. I was behind such a person recently admiring her agility as she managed the toddler, two babies in a double stroller and a massive amount of luggage.

The pedestrian bottleneck was exacerbated when a young lady rushed briskly by me only to be slowed by the mother and her children. Impatient with the time it was taking to get around the second person unleashed a rude verbal attack peppered with invectives. Stunned by the unbridled and infantile action several onlookers exchanged glances.

As quickly as the storm erupted it was over and the impatient lady was on her way disappearing into the crowd. I located the loading gate and decided to spend the two hours prior to the flight working on sermon notes at a restaurant in the terminal. While munching on a snack and reading email I overheard the pleasant and respectful voice of a sales person politely responding to a customer. "Yes, sir" she said. "I'll be happy to take care of that." It was a marked difference in civility from what I had witnessed only minutes before. I looked up to see the face behind the voice and to my surprise it was the same person who had created the scene in the hallway. She was at work courteously serving a customer.

I had to chuckle to myself and chalk one up for economist Adam Smith. It is Smith to whom we owe much for the system of free enterprise we enjoy in western culture. He said it produces character. Strange, it's an amoral system but it improves the moral fiber of people who live and work within it. For example, if there are two men who operate the same kind of business and one is a cheat and the other is honest, with whom do you want to do business? The average consumer, if he has a choice, (if the government doesn't choose for him) will choose the honest merchant leaving the dishonest man to suffer for his lack of character. The system encourages the liar to change. Unless it's a monopoly. If the liar is the only business in town, he can keep up his wicked ways and maybe never answer for his sins. It's why communism doesn't work. In a free system, cheating eventually catches up with a man.

When Jesus told his followers to "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin," (Matt. 6:28) he was talking about a system that God built into the universe. The system was created to take care of the lilies, as well as the birds. Worry doesn't make nature work faster but it will shorten your life.

There is something about working with nature that brings a man, pardon the pun, down to earth. It doesn't take long for him to realize what a small part of creation he is. You learn to accept the systems God created and work within them. The farmer didn't create the rain, or the sun but he benefits from both. He learns his limitations.

The great sin of communism and socialism is the removal of natural consequences. Government which interferes with the natural process of life ultimately tends toward evil. It encourages sloth and every other vice.

Jesus' parable about flowers was a profound lesson about life. It is the way it is. Study the system and learn to work within it. The flower grows all by itself. The man who learns that is the man who prospers while others keep bumping their heads against the wall.

Free enterprise is as much a system as nature. People who fancy themselves as dynamic leaders would do well to step back and allow the natural systems to operate unimpeded. A lot more character would be developed by everyone. After all, it's working on the waitress in the Atlanta airport. If she spent more time at work she just might develop enough character to control her tongue.

Maybe I should have given a Bible to the waitress with the foul mouth. And even attached a few pages from "Wealth of the Nations."

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien