Are Your Feelings Becoming Dull?
THERE are ever so many ways in which you might let your feelings become dull. For example, investigators have warned youths against listening for long periods of time to very loud rock ’n’ roll music. The noise takes its toll. It damages the youths’ hearing as well as their capacity to respond appreciatively, even to the music they like.
Much the same can be said about eating too much highly seasoned food, drinking too much liquor, taking stimulants excessively or resorting to drugs for “kicks.” In fact, all excesses or deviations from what is reasonable and normal are subject to the law of diminishing returns. The person who constantly feeds his craving for excitement finds that his capacity to enjoy it gets numbed, and he needs ever more excitement to give him the same thrill. This is also true of those who do not bridle their greed for other sensual pleasures. To satisfy their excessive craving for such pleasures, many persons experiment with new devices, explore new ways and even resort to unnatural, degrading and revolting practices.
These same principles also apply to watching violent TV programs. Thus two professors at Pennsylvania State College experimented with two groups of children over a four-week period. One group saw twelve programs featuring violence and that were termed “aggressive.” The other saw twelve constructive, “pro-social” programs. Reporting on the results, Parents magazine said: “The day-to-day behavior of the children who watched the ‘aggressive’ shows deteriorated noticeably while, in contrast, the ‘pro-social’ watchers improved in observing rules, tolerating delays, and persisting at daily tasks.”
Not only children are influenced adversely by violent TV programs. A Hawaiian university mass-media researcher found that there was a direct relationship between what kind of TV programs adults watched and their auto-driving habits. Those who watched programs featuring violence were found to be reckless, “wild,” irresponsible drivers. Their sensibilities had become benumbed as to the hazards of driving. But those people with safe driving habits avoided watching such programs.
This dulling of one’s sensibilities due to watching violent TV programs also manifests itself in the indifference shown by people when they see someone getting hurt. We are counseled to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) A regular diet of violence in TV or motion pictures tends to harden a person so that he ignores that commandment. He sees so much violence on the screen that when he sees violence in real life he acts unconcerned, taking it for granted.
Thus the New York Times of September 28, 1972, told of two New Yorkers, one a professor of international law at Columbia University, and the other a prominent lawyer, both being mugged in broad daylight just a week apart. The professor was knifed to death, and three hoodlums pummeled the prominent layer with their fists. In each instance there were large numbers of people on the street watching what was going on, but no one went to the aid of the victims. Fear of becoming involved, no doubt, was a factor. But also, having seen so much violence on the screens, the sensibilities of onlookers were dulled to the suffering of a fellow human.
Why do we all need to guard against having our sensibilities dulled? Because all of us have inherited selfish tendencies. ‘In iniquity we were brought forth, for our mothers conceived us in sin.’ (Ps. 51:5, New English Bible) So all of us have a latent tendency to go against God’s laws. As his Word tells us: “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.” In fact, none other than the apostle Paul confessed that the things he really wanted to do he did not do, and the things he actually did not want to do, he did.—Gen. 8:21; Rom. 7:15-25.
Quite to the contrary, Jesus Christ, the model for all Christians, had by nature tender susceptibilities. He had compassion on those who were oppressed. When with mourners he wept. On other occasions he was outraged at the way the religious leaders treated the common people and he offered the oppressed rest.—Matt. 9:36; 11:28-30; 23:2-35; John 11:35.
What are some ways one can guard against having one’s sensibilities dulled? One is by being very careful what one takes into the mind when reading and when watching pictures. Avoid entertainment that features violence or that appeals to the baser instincts. When watching TV programs, do not hesitate to turn the dial when the picture violates your standards. Be just as selective in what you read. And, of course, you cannot do better than to read the Bible. In particular can you find enjoyment in reading the Gospels. Have the mental attitude the psalmist had when he said: “I am exulting over your saying just as one does when finding much spoil.”—Ps. 119:162.
Why do so many people go in for things that dull their feelings? No doubt one reason is a lack of contentment. Wisely the Bible counsels us to be content and appreciate having the things we really need. (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Involved also is the matter of self-control. If one has a weakness for sensual pleasure, it takes willpower to turn the dial and reject a program that promises excitement, as do violent films. Guard against being a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God. God’s Word counsels us to be “moderate in habits,” and this is not only right but also wise. Failure to control ourselves in the quest for pleasure is bound to be self-defeating, for it dulls our capacity to enjoy what we do.—1 Tim. 3:2, 11; 2 Tim. 3:4, 5.
So be wise. Guard against dulling your feelings, whether physical, emotional or moral. Be moderate in the enjoyment of the good things of life and steer clear of what is bad, what is violent, what is sensual. Reading God’s Word will help you, for “abundant peace belongs to those loving [God’s] law, and for them there is no stumbling block.”—Ps. 119:165.