I am a talker. Get me in a room with a lot of people, and I just go. I’ll talk about anything: history, religion, science, food, music, irony, pathos, hubris, and ignorance. I’ve got a lot to say, and I enjoy talking to people. I joined Toastmasters a year ago, and I discovered there a whole world of opportunity. And it seems people like to listen to me, which is good, because I’m not shy. That said, there are times when I can’t speak. I often wish I could tell the difference between when I should and should not open my mouth. Indeed, there are times when I know I shouldn’t.
Over the last few months, I have expressed my disgust over Facebook for, among many reasons, the sheer number of people with nothing but vapid remarks, or those espousing ideologies and philosophies that completely go against common sense. I can pretty much ignore most of this noise, but people are persistent, if not sensible. You can’t even have civil discourse in most cases. Simply put, there are a host of reasons why I avoid Facebook like a free ticket to Liberia.
But why I’m not talking is not entirely related to my frustration with social media. Right now, all around the world, there are people who have stories to tell, amazing, unbelievable stories about life and love and death and redemption. Sadly, we will never hear most of them because these people are prisoners or refugees or captives or marginalized individuals or groups. The media will not tell their stories. They don’t have literary agents. No publisher is looking their direction. And Journalists are being brutally killed in the name of savagery and hatred, not in the name of Allah. Millions of people being silenced.
Truth is in the eye of the spin doctor. We in the US are beginning to understand how the media feed us versions of the truth. It seems that the internet has helped us learn that we can’t believe everything we read, even in newspapers and magazines. But can we believe anything? I listen to NPR every day, and I tend to think it is a fair and balanced news organization. But I disagree with NPR and its reporting and editing sometimes. Despite this, I find it refreshing after seeing a few minutes of CNN or MSNBC or most other news channels. There’s just so much noise. And a lot of it is verbal diarrhea.
This bring me back to my first statement: I like to talk. Well, I also like to listen, and I believe I have become a good listener over my last year in Toastmasters. Plus, I have been more reserved in my outwardness, enabling me to listen more closely. I’ve learned when to speak and when to shut up. I wish I could give a voice to all those who remain silent (not by their own decision.) There are things I wish I could say, but I realize that words have the power to hurt as well as comfort, and we should always be careful to choose our words wisely. The person who said, “sticks and stones…” was a fool. Words can be like daggers, cutting deep and causing wounds that can last forever.
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
The right words will be a healing balm, and the wrong words will surely injure. Samuel Clemens said once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” I choose to remain silent when I know that all I have are the wrong words. It’s like Edward Scissorhands trying to tie shoelaces. I hope that people will understand my silence of late. I am not brooding – well, maybe a little – and I’m not becoming a recluse. I just know I shouldn’t say anything, well, aside from this. I think the media could follow my lead; I don’t trust that they will shut their pie holes for one second, just as the Facebook community won’t refrain from offering up kittens in hats and misquoted dead people. Oh well, life goes on. I’ll probably break my silence as soon as I’ve assembled the gall to post a picture of me in whitey-tighties and a cape. (Is there ever a right time for Pythonesque exhibitions?)