A principle of computer programming exists that says, essentially, that the computer is only as good as the stuff humans put into it. Everyone’s heard the phrase: Garbage in, garbage out. Makes a lot of sense, really. Recently, with smart phones and all, I don’t even know is this axiom is still true. It does seem that our computers have minds of their own, if not sentience. But, for now, we’ll assume it’s still true.
A couple of ways to think about this idea are, first, that if you put garbage in, you may expect garbage out. This is probably how most people think about it—what you sow is what you reap. But a second way to consider this is that if you’re getting garbage out, obviously there’s garbage having gone in at some point. This is the mindset of a troubleshooter, the one who’s going to figure out why your computer screen is displaying purple aliens…or not displaying anything at all. To make this more simple, you can’t correctly solve 2+3 if you state it as 2-3, 2*3 or 2+2. Your output is not what you want? Look at your inputs.
It’s this reverse engineering model I want to examine. Reverse engineering is used quite a lot in programming and is sort of related to what Stephen Covey stated: “Begin with the end in mind” only it’s working backward from the end to determine the beginning. The computer geek starts at the unwanted end and discovers what programming bug or glitch is responsible. Reverse engineering is also being used as a tool in patent infringement on both side by figuring out how something works, tweaking it and coming out with a similar product, or by reverse engineering a product to see if someone has done RE with YOUR product.
So how am I thinking about this today? Well, we’re winding down to the autumn months of 2012 here in a few days. The very air is rife with speculation about the end times, the Mayan calendar, civil unrest, personal insecurity. We’re also here in North American heading into another winter of “recession” while more and more people are suffering from the terminal economy. More and more soothsayers predicting things like polar shift, unleashed global warming, bio-terror—the news is pretty much all bad. If you watch the nightly news (which I haven’t since 1984) your head is filled with horror and gloom. Here’s a video to watch if you’d like to become frightened and dismayed by what’s going on.[This isn’t the most terrifying on the Web by a long shot. I refuse to search for that and put it out here.] We all know about the stress of modern life. It’s well-documented, if not well “managed.”
So, if we reverse engineer a world clearly careening to hell in a handcart, and you believe as I do that thoughts are things—when we resolve the “things” around us into thought, we come up with so many people thinking about murders, swindles, lies, and even hatred. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we even pay to have our heads fill with terror when we watch so-called “action” movies and TV shows. With a mental diet such as this, is it any wonder that there is an ever-escalating incidence of stuff to be fearful and worried about?
We say we want peace but how much time do we each individually spend on a daily basis do we spend thinking out, envisioning and loving peace, especially as compared to the time we spend contemplating its opposite. We say we want peace—and this is on one level so true. We are in want of peace. And even when we pray, we pray “for peace” instead of praying peace. The first implies its absence; the latter creates the reality. Praying peace or rain or health or anything else, is the contemplation of the place that quality has in your life and “real”-izing it.
So garbage in—the “terrors of the night” filling our minds and hearts, while outwardly we spiral into a fire pit oblivion. Any coincidence there? I think so. Resist?—heaven’s no! That keeps the terrors in front of you. You’ll be constantly thinking about what you’re resisting, instead of the goal of peace and contentment. You say you want peace—here’s the instruction manual:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:8-9
It’s doesn’t get much more clear than that. What a promise!