Sunday, July 4, 2010

What Are You Pumping Into Your Spirit?

A couple of weeks ago me along with the eighth grade teachers were chaperoning the school’s eighth grade dinner dance (I refuse to call it a prom because proms are for those who have completed the requirements to graduate high school) and the disc jockey (DJ) was playing one thug rap song after another. The students (who really don’t know how to have a good time) were just standing around huddled up into a crowd in the center of the dance floor and seemed to be confused as to whether to dance or not. They literally looked like a football team in a huddle when they were supposed to be dancing.

At that point one of the chaperons said, I’m sitting here listening to this music and for some reason I am feeling angry. She wasn’t angry at anything or anyone but the music was causing her inner spirit to feel angry. She even said this music is making me feel angry. Note she did not say she was angry at the DJ for playing this type of music; she did not say she was angry with the music; she said the music was making her “feel” angry. My response to her was that this is what our students listen to on a constant and regular basis. It is this type of music that is being listened to when our kids are plugged-in to their IPODs and MP3 players and it is having the same effect on them that it had on this teacher that night. The music is making them feel angry and they then express that anger through fighting, cursing, name calling and bullying. (see The Psychology of Music Effects on Behavior, Intelligence, Learning, Pain and Health)

Conversely, on last Sunday I was driving along the Garden State Parkway on my way to Pleasantville, NJ (which was 112 mile drive from my home) and was listening to gospel music and began feeling really good. The exact opposite was occurring. I was listening to positive music and was feeling great wherein at the dinner dance we were listening to negative lyrics and were feeling angry.  It was at that point that I thought of the conversation with the teacher at the dinner dance inspiring me to write this blog entry.

We really must be conscious of what we allow into our spirits. We live in a time where we can literally shut ourselves off to the world by plugging a pair of mini stereo headphones into our ears. We can virtually shut out any surrounding sounds other than what is being pumped directly into our minds, bodies and souls from these IPOD’s and MP3 players. The words, rhythms, and instrumentation are going unfiltered into our spirits and we think that it does not affect us when in reality it does. Just as the chaperon described, it’s making us feel angry. Again rappers will say that it is “Art imitating life,” and again I will counter with it is “Art perpetuating a bad way of life.”

Parents and children be mindful of what you are letting into your spirit through music, as whatever you allow in will take control of your feelings which will in turn take control over your actions. The next time you are listening to a piece of music, check yourself to see how your are feeling.  As always, I welcome your opinions and commentary.

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