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Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015
Linda Downing

Are you cautious or jaded?

Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 6, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Here we go again: smacked with another polar opposite of what was promoted as truth. A recent health alert regarding cancer finds "routine screenings fail to reduce death toll." Though mass marketed, many tests only raise false alarms and anxiety levels while lowering bank balances.

"And that's the way it is" died long before Walter Cronkite. Shifting and shaking fuels either senselessness or truth. Ideally, we could know enough at the beginning of something to start strong and finish strong. Realistically, many begin strong and end weak. Outcome depends more on answering this question: "Are we cautious or jaded?" And, remember the proverb: "To a quick question, give a slow answer."

Follow-up to the above health report illustrates. We can refuse all medical tests or be forced into every possible test. A ditch gapes on both sides of this road. Caution leads to decision-making, not order taking. Jadedness brings paralysis. Some thrive on disease and the treatments they are selling. We can press "mute" during their commercials.

Being alert, even guarded, is a warrior's weapon. Unfortunately, many fall prey to manipulators who demand unquestioning trust. Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright, must have been thinking of them when he defined "caution" as: "What we call cowardice in others."

Caution demands questioning motives. In his Career Cycles' column, Joe Hodowanes told us straight: "All an employer wants to know is, 'What can you do for me?'" Accepting that does not make us cynics; it makes us smart. Dave Simanoff, in his article "Tips To Becoming A Good Manager," listed: "Be demanding." Accepting that does not make us hardnosed; it makes us discriminating.

Jesus taught the same thing when he warned against false prophets. He said plainly that they "come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits..." (Matthew 7:15-16 NAS). Jesus did not exempt the religious establishment; in fact, he held them more responsible. Asking if Rev. Paula White's return as "Mama" to Without Walls church is God's will and timing or her own ought not to label us jaded but rather followers of Jesus, not mean spirited but cautious.

According to an old adage: "Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set." Our focus on the youth culture has ignored the fact that many young people are inflexible, wearied and bored. They are jaded before they leave high school. In its origin the word "jade" meant a horse that had been driven too hard. Those pushed to the limits of mind and body lose something in their spirits.

In April 2008 aging experts released research showing our odds for happiness increase 5 percent with every 10 years of age. The study's author, Yang Yang, University of Chicago sociologist, said: "Life gets better in one's perception as one ages." ("Older Americans...") Perception increases in proportion to caution. Victor Hugo, French author of "Les Miserables," had great insight when he defined that inimitable quality as "the eldest child of wisdom."

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together - side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at