Publisher’s Point: The Broken Window Theory

I am the unashamed and self-proclaimed Queen of the self-help book industry. If you come to my house, you’ll find that typically I am reading about four books at once on any number of topics, but there is always one in the mix that has to do with getting better….at something. This is a good thing; it beats what my husband calls “lying around on the couch in your bathrobe, eating bon bons, and watching soaps.” Unfortunately, it can also be the creator of clutter if left unchecked. I have such choice titles as Success For Dummies, Your Perfect Weight, Fifty And Fabulous (except now I am in my 60s), and of course, there is a whole section on beating clutter, including the Don Aslett classic, Clutter’s Last Stand. The problem is, that particular section in my personal library to which I am referring is, er, cluttered. Truth be told, I make great strides, and then I backslide.

However, today I learned something about my dilemma that just may prove to be of help, and it’s called the “broken window theory.” I realize we can get fed up mighty quick with feeling like we are at the continual mercy of psychologists and social scientists who have garnered yet more grant money to study God knows what, and then apply their findings to humans. And, from where I perch, humans are fabulous, flawed, they are redeemable if they are willing, and are created in the image and likeness of an amazing Creator.

The “broken window theory” was a concept that was first advanced from a field experiment that placed a seemingly ownerless, vulnerable, abandoned car in a not-so-great New York City neighborhood in order to see how quickly it would get stripped or vandalized. The theory morphed into a much debated criminological premise and of course became politicized, then rejected, and finally re-embraced on a modified basis. In simpler terms, the idea is that if you have a window that has one pane broken out and don’t fix it right away, it won’t be long till that one broken place seems to attract more breakage, and before you know it, someone has taken out all the windows. The broken window theory is touted as one of the keys to urban decay as well as urban renewal, and I think it has some definite weight.

I know that if I plop my purse, keys and other work-related schmutz on the dining room table rather than put it away when I walk in the door, in a maddeningly short amount of time there are piles everywhere, and I get tempted to go put on my bathrobe and collapse onto the couch because it’s so overwhelming. Then there’s the obligatory shame-and-blame-fest, and finally I get fed up enough to do something about it, although not as a very happy camper. However, I happen to believe that God cares about little things like this, and I am fully aware such a concept is annoying to many people of faith. They think that He is only engaged in the big stuff, and you are on your own for the rest. I don’t have the strength to debate that here at this Point, all I know is that I have been praying about my own inner and outer “broken windows,” and BOOM! I came across this stuff today right in the middle of putting the paper together.

Could it really be that simple, that the tiny things add up and compound at the speed of light? It makes sense, and Lord knows, I am ready for a change. The proof will be in the pudding, my dears, and by grace I am purposing to put the bowl used to make that symbolic pudding straight into the dishwasher from here on out, no excuses. Join me?