OPINION

A Web Of Their Own Making

Michael J. Brooks

Lately we read of a presidential Cabinet nominee who was forced to withdraw from consideration after making some caustic comments on social media in past years.

This isn’t the first time a politician has been caught in a web of their own making.

We think of President Richard Nixon who recorded himself suggesting law enforcement could obstruct justice. Presidential aide Alexander Butterfield will always be remembered as the congressional witness who revealed the secret about the White House taping system to lawmakers. When the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes to investigators, his presidency was finished.

And we remember Sen. Gary Hart who made a strong White House bid before a picture of him and a girlfriend showed up in the newspapers--on a boat called “Monkey Business,” of all things. What was he thinking when he allowed someone to take this photo?

Americans have always had opinions, but now it’s easier to share them freely on social media. We’ve seen postings ranging from “look what I’m about to have for dinner” to “you won’t believe what happened at work today.” Many have seen such postings come back to attack them.

It’s a new world. I remember how surprised I was to see it the first time. I was in a classroom lecturing away when I turned to write on the white board. I heard a camera click and discovered that students now are taking pictures of the teacher’s notes on the board so they won’t have to write them down! And administration warns teachers to assume everything they say in class is being recorded, and to be cautious. I know several teachers whose statements have been misinterpreted over the years, so it may be that a recording could be a good thing, just as many counselors customarily record their therapy sessions.

My dad used to keep a collection of cassette tapes of my sermons. I’m not sure what happened to these, but I sometimes think I’m better off not being reminded of some bone-headed things I’ve said from the pulpit.

The current example is a reminder that our Heavenly Father takes note of what we say. Jesus said, “ . . . that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12: 36). John the Revelator wrote about the books in which God has recorded these things. I believe “books” is a synonym for the mind of God. Surely, the omniscient Lord of the universe doesn’t need to make a shopping list for Judgment Day. He  sees and knows all.

This is inspired encouragement to be cautious that our words honor God and others.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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