slideshow widget

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Words mean things

Words mean things. That might sound simple, yet it's the truth. The way we use words, and often how we use words, sends a message. Sometimes that message is intended, and sometimes otherwise.

Read the words of Ecclesiastes 6:11, "The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?" And Epictetus, the great philosopher of Ancient Greece, said, " First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.

Epictetus also said, "Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly." And he said, "Silence is safer than speech." Likewise, and my favorite Epictetus quote, is this:

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."

Ben Franklin was very cautious with his use of words, and resigned himself to think about what he said. In his autobiography he mentioned 13 virtues that he concentrated on in an attempt to make himself a better man. One such virtue is as follows:

"Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

Franklin also said, "Brevity is the soul of wit," and "He's a fool that cannon conceal his wisdom."

The Bible talks about words and the importance of limiting their use. In James (13: 19) it is written, "Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry."

Sirach (20: 23-24) notes that, "If you promise a friend something because you are too bashful to say no, you're needlessly making an enemy." Likewise, he notes, "Lying is an ugly blot on a person's character, but ignorant people do it all the time. A thief is better than a habitual liar, but both are headed for ruin. A liar has no honor. He lives in constant disgrace."

So when we do speak we must be careful to speak from our heart, to speak honestly, and to sincerely say what we mean and what we intend to do. To do otherwise would be disgraceful, and would lead to loss of respect.

Philosophers for thousands of years have observed that the man who says the least is most likely to be the most intelligent in the room, or at least give the appearance of intelligence, as the smart person knows to remain silent. Likewise, the man who speaks the least uses words that are the most potent.

It is better to read and to listen, than to speak. Most of what we say is not even necessary and trivial. Likewise, our words often come back to haunt us. So, as a proverb says, "If you are careful, you will not get into situations that require you to be brave."

So discretion is the better part of valor. Valor, as defined by Meriam-Dictionary means "strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery."

Words mean thins: use them sparingly. Think before you speak. I think this should also include what we write on Facebook and what we send in our texts. If we are not careful, what what we communicate can come back to haunt us.

No comments: