I am inspired by the Development Beyond Learning logo. It reminds me of a boomerang, the perfect symbol for one of life’s most important lessons, “What goes around, comes around.”
This well-known expression describes a value neutral principle. Just as gravity works equally well on heavy objects as it does on lighter objects, the boomerang principle works the same on deeds good and bad. First, take a look at two quotes on the positive side of this principle.
“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
— Bible, Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)
“You can have everything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
— Zig Zigler (1926- )
On the flip side, the legendary feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy’s comes to mind. The fact is, the human tendency to return evil for evil goes back to the earliest days of recorded human history.
“Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.”
— Bible, 2 Samuel 3:27 (NIV)
The Information Technology industry is notorious for adopting a familiar phrase or object as a metaphor for a technical concept. “What goes in comes out” could easily have become the computer industry’s way to explain how computers deal with bad data. Instead, they parodied one of their own phrases, First In, First Out (FIFO) and came up with Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). Today GIGO is the universally accepted warning for the behavior of any system or process, including the human thought process.
“If you dump garbage in, garbage will come out. The person who dumps garbage into your mind will do you considerably more harm than the one who dumps garbage on your floor.”
— Zig Ziglar (1926- ), See You At the Top, 1978, p. 228.
“Whatever you put into your mind becomes part of the total you.”
— Zig Ziglar (1926- ), See You At the Top, 1978, p. 231.
It’s encouraging to know that “Garbage In, Garbage Out” has a corollary called “Good In, Good Out.” I know it’s not very clever, but it’s the best I could come up with. At least it uses the same letters. The important point is, there’s a positive side to GIGO. Ziglar explains it using a nutrition analogy.
“From the neck down, very few people are worth more than $100.00 a week. From the neck up, there is no limit to what an individual is worth. So what do we do? We feed our stomachs, the $100.00 part below our necks, every day. How often do we feed our minds, the part that has no limit to its value, earning and happiness potential? … Most of us feed it accidentally and occasionally, if it’s convenient or we don’t have anything else to do.”
— Zig Ziglar (1926- ), See You At the Top, 1978, p. 245.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
— Bible, Romans 12:2 (NIV)
“Finally, brothers, 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.”
— Bible, Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Coming back around to the boomerang principle, think about how it applies to thoughts and words. Ever get in an argument? One person throws out an inflammatory remark and finds an inflammatory remark flying right back. Since we’re all guilty of wanting the last word, we keep throwing that boomerang, each time with a little more force as if throwing it harder will somehow end the argument in our favor. Not so — it’s just more fuel on the fire.
“If you can’t answer a man’s arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.”
— Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), American writer, publisher, artist, philosopher.
Eventually, as the verbal combatants run out of gas, the principle may appear to fail. Maybe a more appropriate phrase for arguments would be…
“Round and round she goes and where she stops, nobody knows.”
— From The Original Amateur Hour, an American radio and television program.
Hard as it may be, the best alternative to arguing is the practice of throwing boomerangs of love, kindness, grace, humility, apologies, and forgiveness. What comes flying back may be a big surprise! But should it be? After all, what goes around comes around!
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
— Bible, Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.”
— Bible, Romans 12:17 (NKJV)