Friday, October 21, 2011
Sometimes I pick silence, but it's getting rare
Silence has it's advantages.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Better to remain silent and be thought of a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
I consider Honest Abe a pretty smart guy, and his words resonate more than a century later. Silence is often the most viable option.
But I'm finding it increasingly difficult to remain silent. Age? Perhaps.
After more than 15 years in the newspaper business, I'm used to controversy, and particularly, insults. Nary a week goes by that I don't hear from a too-honest reader who finds it necessary to tell me the newspaper is bad, or cuts down the job we do. It isn't easy to hear, and especially difficult when you believe that person is misguided in their opinion.
And once upon a time, I used to just push my lips together, nod my head and wear an often too fake smile while steaming within. And sometimes, just sometimes, I still do. Catch me in an off mood, however, and you're probably in for it. I won't raise my voice or be rude, but I may disagree.
I figure that if you have a right to an opinion, then I am allowed my own. I used to think that being a public figure meant that I had to take abuse from the public. And for a part, I still think that's the case. I do believe I have to listen, but nothing says I must remain silent.
But, very recently, I found myself facing a dilemma. A man I know has been quite confrontational to me twice, to the point that he's downright insulting, and to top it off, he was misguided in both instances. Without going into details, I defended myself calmly in both instances, but I'll admit the situations have left me fuming. What gives him the right to jump my case, without getting the facts first? But I think what upsets me more is that both times I let him. In other words, I mostly remained silent.
But it makes me wonder if silence is always the best medicine?
I don't think it is.
Sometimes I think it's imperative that you put your foot down and stand your ground. But Josh Billings wisely noted that silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.
And, really, who am I to argue with that?