“He who spares his words has knowledge. He who is even tempered is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is counted wise. When he shuts his lips, he is thought to be discerning.”Proverbs 17:27-28
In a day of instant opinion and broadcasting of folly, it is rare to find the individual who maintains a solid disposition and yet feels no compulsion to enter the fray of argumentative debate.
Solomon relates that it is the even-tempered person who has understanding. When emotions run high, foolishness cannot be far behind. And yet, one of the most difficult aspects of spiritual vigilance is to not speak out just for the sake of being heard.
The marketplace of opinion is wide and shallow and typically caters to the loudest voices. Yet it is proven time and time again that the loudest voice is not always the voice of truth. Unfortunately, this appears to be a lesson that needs to be learned generation after generation.
Interestingly, Solomon states that even if someone is legitimately foolish, they appear to be wise and discerning by not always disclosing their opinion. This wisdom is wryly captured in a quote that is commonly attributed to both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln: “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
Those who are truly wise have no need of the popular affirmation that comes from always seeming to have the most correct viewpoint. They are content in knowing their position is correct, and to only speak out when invited to do so.
Learning to have this measure of control and discernment over our opinion-sharing would provide a welcome respite from the incessant and oppressive background noise of this generation. My belief is that if we can be vigilant in abiding by this principle, the world would be a much quieter, and indeed more balanced, place.
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