Monday, December 15, 2014

Accentuate the Positive?

From time to time we’re treated to new renditions of old favorite songs. I remember when Faith Hill, then a rising star in the country-western world, recorded a twangy version of Janis Joplin’s classic, “Piece of My Heart.” Barbra Streisand has just released a new album – yep, she can still sing – in which she does duets with popular male singers. For one of the songs, “Love Me Tender,” she’s joined by the King himself, Elvis. Guess it’s true what they say: You can’t keep a good man down.

The Andrews Sisters in the mid-1940s
sang about "accentuating the positive."
(Wikipedia photo)
Frankly, I like this idea of recycling hit tunes from the past. So much of what’s presented as music these days lacks, well, just about everything. So why not reprise more oldies but goldies, songs with proven track records. I’d like to nominate a song from bygone days that suggested we should “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.” This musical ditty, popularized by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters starting in 1944, deserves to be re-recorded by someone today because if anything, we tend to do just the opposite.

Take our social media for example. We find conservatives criticizing liberals, liberals lashing out at conservatives. Sports fans redressing players on their favorite teams because they failed to perform to their expectations. People who espouse one ideology launching unrelenting attacks against people that disagree with them.

“If you can’t say something negative, don’t say anything at all” seems to be the motto of the day.

That doesn’t mean we should accept everything and anything in the name of “tolerance.” We’re entitled to our beliefs and convictions. But it seems our national and personal self-images are in such sad shape the only way we can build ourselves up is by tearing others down.

So again, I propose someone famous should re-record “Accentuate the Positive” and turn it into a national hit. International even, maybe like Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” or Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Wouldn’t it be great if we all started singing and humming, “Ya gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…”?

Of course, this idea’s not new. Long before that song was conceived, the ancient book we know as the Bible suggested the same thing. Writing to the church in the city of Philippi, the apostle Paul urged followers of Jesus, 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(Philippians 4:8).

This isn’t a call for Pollyanna, head-in-the-sand, “don’t worry, be happy”-type thinking, but an exhortation to focus on the good, the uplifting, the encouraging and the redemptive, rather than the ugly, the demeaning and the degrading.

It’s been reported that negative, destructive thinking and acting takes a toll not only on its targets, but also on those who harbor such thoughts and actions. So as we continue through this holiday season, being reminded of the virtues of “good will toward men,” maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take the admonition from Ephesians 4:29 to heart: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Who knows? We might make someone’s day – in a good way!

1 comment:

Charles Rolston said...

Bob - Go find Monica Mancini; The Dreams of Johnny Mercer. She does a great job of covering Uncle Johnny's songs including the one you're musing about.