What’s in Your Ear?

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What’s in Your Ear?

How today’s music reflects the denigration of society

The folly of youth is to think you know everything. It takes a degree of humility to admit that you don’t know it all. To the thinking person, maturity brings with it, over time, the realization of just how little we do know.

Yet youth, in its blissful ignorance, can be hard to convince of this—especially when it comes to what they stick in their ear.

The current generation is subject to the massive bombardment of certain sounds—which they insist on calling music—the sale of which is designed by certain folks to enhance their own private coffers with no mind to any detrimental effect on the young listener. This the young are far too often plugged into for many hours of the day.

Whereas video, the visual stimulant to which youth is most attached, relieves the mind of the thinking process almost entirely, audio engages the mind. Mind you, not much effort is required to listen to today’s pop music. The lack of complexity is remarkable in its often sheer monotony of repetitious beat, banal lyrics, a tonality which often reaches across a huge span of about half an octave, and talentless voicing. The result is like the continuing dripping of water on a stone—it may be mind-numbing, but over time it cuts deep into the mind and leaves a negative impression that lasts a lifetime. It exerts massive influence on social behavior.

This cannot be good.

The results of today’s degenerate pop music are reflected in the demeanor, shameless attitude, increasingly violent behavior, and lack of moral courage—let alone lack of morals—of too many in today’s subculture of youth within Western society.

In the Australian state of Victoria, a recent survey found that almost 7 in 10 teachers reported being the victim of some form of threatening behavior. In the survey conducted by Galaxy Research late last year, 37 percent of teachers said that a student had “verbally threatened (them) with physical violence,” up from 26 percent two years earlier.

A 2010 report issued by the Queensland State Department of Education and Training commented on the rise in the number of disciplinary actions in schools across that state. “Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said the level of violence in schools was escalating in line with society. ‘Schools in many respects mirror what’s happening in society and we’ve seen an increase in anti-social behavior in society,’ he said. ‘It’s escalating enormously in society, and schools have to deal with it as well’” (Brisbane Times, June 29, 2010).

So why is violence escalating in society?

Commenting on an earlier generation, Jesus Christ declared, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).

The Bible also gives the reason for the existence of a perverse mind: “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart for the abundance of all things” (Deuteronomy 28:47).

Simply put, the further our society has drifted away from our Creator, the greater the denigration of the human mind and as a consequence, the human societal condition.

Is it just by happenstance that in times when music was tuneful, upbeat, in sync with the body’s natural rhythms, that society reflected far less tendency for violence? Is there any connection between the music of such a genre and the more elegant style of dress, more careful attention to language, greater degree of manners and sense of shame for wrongdoing that prevailed at the time when such music was fashionable?

Is there not a similar connection between today’s pop “music” and the grungy dress, sloppy, single-syllable, short-form lingo, shabby manners and general shamelessness that runs in parallel with it?

It does not take a scientific investigation for any intelligent mind to see the connection. Simply put, what you stick in your ear affects the mind. The mind affects the speech, the appearance, the behavior and the morals.

In his masterful work The Closing of the American Mind, Prof. Alan Bloom noted over two decades ago the phenomenon that “Today, a very large proportion of young people between the ages of 10 and 20 live for music. It is their passion. Nothing else excites them as it does; they cannot take seriously anything alien to music.” Bloom observed that when forcefully distracted by family, school or work commitments, “they are longing to plug themselves back into music …. [I]t is available 24 hours a day, everywhere.”

And what are these impulsive, immature, inexperienced young minds plugging themselves into? “[R]ock music has one appeal only, a barbaric appeal, to sexual desire—sexual desire undeveloped and untutored” (ibid).

When one adds illicit drugs or alcohol to this, the resultant cocktail percolating in a young person’s mind is lethal—spiritually, morally, behaviorally, intellectually, socially lethal.

If you don’t accept this reality, then by all means go live the result of your choices. That’s your right as a human being—to make your choices and live with the result, no matter how lethal—to you, and to others whom you might affect. Our task is just to warn you of the penalty that you will pay for wrong choices. If you want to get scientific, then do a study of the effects of the lifestyles of the average pop and rock artist.

If you do see the connection between fashionable music and social behavior and you are a parent, then you have a simple choice: to unplug your child before his mind and his behavior become soul-destroying—to him, to you, and to who knows who else.

If you are a young person and can see the logic in this argument, then do yourself a favor: Simply pull the plug—cold turkey!

Real music, that which obeys the immutable laws of God, can be a wonderfully enriching part of life. It can soothe in moments of stress, calm the vexed, add sheer delight to romance, uplift to the heights the spirit in man. At its very peak it expresses glory and praise to the one who created man to benefit from it.

If you really want to kick the plugged-in habit, and turn your ear to really good music, then read our own music director’s article on this site titled, “Are You Listening to the Right Music?” It should give you real food for thought.