What Is Worth Saying?
How prone we are to speak our mind in many words without having much to say! What is worth saying? Do we have anything worth saying?
Here is one example: You are asked your opinion about a matter. You really don’t know a whole lot about it, but you have heard some talk. How are you going to respond to the question? Are you going to openly confess that you know little about the matter, but have merely heard a few people say a few things. Or are you more likely instead to give an answer almost as if you knew a lot about the matter, had thought long and hard about it, and come to profoundly wise conclusions? If you are anything like me, the far more “natural” thing to do is the latter option. Of course, it goes without saying that the first approach is the only honest one and the far better one. But it seems that it is a very hard thing for people like me to do. Am I the only one like this?
I am learning that to give my advice and opinion about life, especially when we are actually talking about something important and not some trivial matter, ought to be seen as a weighty and grave thing. I ought not lightly give opinions about things that are not light. I should think about thing a lot and be able to say that I have come to firm beliefs about a matter before I give any strong opinion. If I have not done so and do not have firm beliefs, I ought not speak as if I had.
As, for instance, when I am writing on a blog and presuming to give thoughts of wisdom about life, isn’t that a rather large claim and position to take? In truth, it is, though perhaps I don’t take it seriously enough. I feel that I ought not write anything here for others to read, though, that is not a matter of firm belief to me and the fruit of reflection and experience. I lean towards the idea that I ought better say nothing at all that I cannot support with firm conviction and the testimony of personal experience. I will try not to write a bunch of things on this blog that I do not believe firmly in.
But if we all adopted such an approach, perhaps we would find that we had much less to say than we thought. Honestly, how many issues have we thought long enough about and come to firm beliefs about, enough that we could give advice to others with true conviction? Perhaps not as many things as we presume to speak about normally. But wouldn’t our words be much more valuable and, hopefully, others would learn to esteem our advice much more if we followed this approach? And wouldn’t we likewise be saved from the error of many mistakes in giving wrong opinions and advice? In short, we would probably be better off to say less than we do about many thing, wouldn’t we? And even when we do speak about things that are not matters of firm opinion to us, let us at least do so in less dogmatic tones and with a more honest attitude of open inquiry and exploration. If we did that, we might all learn together better. Some things we do and should have strong opinions about. Concerning other matters, we have only an unexamined leaning. We ought to distinguish between the two. We would all be wiser if we did, I think.