Silence Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week Two, Q2

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

Personal notes:

  • Remember to be silent!
  • Ask why, and then listen to the answer.
  • Limit “hate watching” during TV.
  • Extend to the cyber world: FB, social networks, etc.

A couple walks up to a house, the color of the house is pooh brown. The interior: a 1980s kitchen with scattershot pooh backsplash, pooh painted walls, and dark pooh floors, which I guess is a good thing if you own dogs. The pooh house sat on a lot that can only be described as a repurposed military base: square brick rows separated by tiny plots, no trees, no fences, a cracked concrete slab posing as a patio. The type of craftsmanship that screamed “made by the lowest bidder.” During the viewing of the home, my wife and I joked incessantly about poor taste and even poorer design; surely HGTV showed this home to fuel our self-esteem. But when the buyers decided to purchase the home, our collective hate-watching kicked into overdrive.

I’ll be honest, it was fun making fun of the buyer’s poor decision. But as I sat there afterwards, I wondered why we gleefully ridiculed people? Why didn’t we think: “Well, they’re happy. Good for them for buying a new home.” Better yet, why weren’t we silent? The old adage of “if you have nothing to say,” popped to mind.

On Mother’s Day, I made my wife cry because I couldn’t be silent. All I had to do was shut-up, but I couldn’t help myself and let go a hurtful comment. For a second I stood there fully satisfied, then the second after I felt horrible, wishing I could undo the mistake. Over the next hour I apologized profusely and did my best to make amends. We talked and shared a lot. Turns out we weren’t communicating: I was mad about troubles I kept to myself; she was silently carrying burdens.

When we should have been talking, we were silent. When I should have been silent, I shot my foot off. Yes, you should listen and empathize with others this week, and be sure to avoid useless conversations, but give those closest to you, those you love, the conversation they deserve; engage constructively. And be careful of those fun, snide comments, they can become a knee-jerk habit that ruins Mother’s Day.