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Words: necessary or not?

February 19, 2016

“I’d rather be silent and be called a fool, than open my mouth and remove all doubt.”

My grandfather isn’t one to give out big sayings. Lately he’s been telling us what his high school peers would say about him. One of the best is, “I came. I saw. And now I’m leaving.”

When I first heard the wisdom he gave me, I thought it was another one of his jokes. Maybe it was. But for now I take it as advice, for the life that lies ahead of me.

It took awhile to figure out what it means, but I finally have the answer: We can be quiet and be called a fool, and know that we aren’t because we haven’t said anything at all. But if we say something that’s absolutely wrong, nobody needs to call us a fool for us to be one. We’ve already proven it ourselves.

How often does that happen to us? Where our mouths run so much faster than how our brain is thinking that we end up looking like idiots? We talk because we want to contribute to the conversation, whether it’s giving our input or our side of the story. But sometimes, it’s better just to listen to others instead of chatting the world away.

While we as Americans are given the right to speak freely, that’s not something to take advantage of. When I look on Facebook or Twitter, it’s always exhausting to see someone have to explain how terrible their life is.

In William Zinsser’s book, “On Writing Well,” he states how people will just use clutter in their words or make things more complicated by adding in words that shouldn’t be there. And that’s just for writing. Here in our everyday lives, we focus too much on ranting about religion or negative resouces in our lives. It’s okay to give out opinions, but having them thought out before going off on a rampage helps people to listen more and relate to that side of the story.

My grandfather isn’t one for words. I believe that he is giving me an undirected choice of being knowledgeable with my words, knowing that each one comes with a price. I don’t have to say everything that comes into my mind, and just spit it out for the world to hear. I can keep quiet, let my thoughts go, and probably reduce the chances of me embarrassing myself. All I have to do is say what is needed. Nothing more, nothing less.

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