DEEP IN the bowels of the forty-story office building, a white-coated individual stared intently at the endless line of coded characters before him. On the face of the control panel behind him, numerous rows of small lights rhythmically blinked their reassuring message. The operator paused for a moment and then quickly struck a key on the typewriter at his right. Instantly the computer printer erupted into frenzied action. Momentarily distracted by the barrage of staccato noises surging from the printer, the operator failed to notice the arrival of the programming supervisor in the bright but windowless computer room. "Hey, Bill," the supervisor shouted over the clattering din, "how's that inventory listing going?" "It's coming off the printer right now," replied the operator, now somewhat relieved that he could witness the visible fruits of his recent labors. As the last sheets of the listing tumbled to the bottom of the printer, the noise level in the room subsided to its normal monotonous hum. The operator quickly tore off the listing and handed it to the supervisor. After a brief examination, the supervisor exploded. He hurled the listing into the nearest trash receptacle and stalked out of the computer room. The operator, taken aback but not completely abashed, caught up with the supervisor in the next room. "What's wrong with the listing?" he gingerly asked. "It's nothing but garbage," the supervisor groused. "Whoever programmed this thing ought to have his head examined." "You mean it's our old problem: 'Garbage in — garbage out'?" the operator queried. "Exactly," replied the supervisor as he went looking for a certain programmer. As the little sketch above illustrates, garbage in/garbage out is a well-known fact of life in the world of data processing. But it has an even more vital role to play in the functioning of another highly so phisticated piece of computing equipment — the human mind. Like the computer, our minds can either be rightly used or abused depending on the kind of information and thoughts we feed it. And the way we think inwardly invariably affects the outward man. As the Manufacturer of the human computer put it in Proverbs 23:7: "For as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he." And Matthew 15:17-19: "Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies...." If garbage is on the inside, eventually it will show up on the outside — in our behavior, mannerisms and personality. For instance, a person who inwardly feels hostile to others will often indulge in gossiping, faultfinding and open criticism. Or take the individual who dotes on dime novels, movie magazines and afternoon TV matinees. He may find it much easier to daydream his life away and increasingly difficult to sustain any kind of deep, introspective or creative though processes. Such a person will not only think in trivial terms, but speak that way as well. On the other hand, a person can go to the other extreme by becoming super introspective and critically self-sensitive. He or she becomes all wrapped up with old number one — the big "I." Usually others find the company of such a person extremely dull and boring because of his superego fixation. And then there's the man who inwardly trembles over what others may think of him. His man-pleasing instincts are so strong that he can easily become anything from a mild-mannered Joe Pablum to a martinet-type "yes-man" who unthinkingly executes the boss's orders. Often a man who has the right mental approach can turn failure in a particular area in life into outward success. In this regard, James Allen, the author of the book As a Man Thinketh, wrote: "A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself." What a man thinks inwardly also has a great deal to do with his outward health. While many leading medical authorities are coming to better appreciate this principle, the Creator of the human apparatus understood it from the beginning. Again, God says in Proverbs 14:30: "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones." And Proverbs 17:22: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:
The way we think inwardly invariably affects the outward man. As the Manufacturer of the human computer put it: "For as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he."
but a broken spirit drieth the bones." But an even more important aspect of the garbage-in/garbage-out principle is the way it can affect others. Again notice what Christ said about this in Matthew 12:35: "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." One of the "things" referred to in the above passage would certainly include our patterns of speaking. And yet, as the apostle James shows, the tongue is one of the most difficult areas of our life to bring under control. "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). A person can control what comes out of his mouth• if he can control what goes into his mind. As Christ stated in Matthew 12:34: "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." We can get the garbage out of our lives if we don't allow it to get into our minds. As Christians we can do this if we follow the instructions of the apostle Paul in II Corinthians 10:5 by "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." And in Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."