Close

July 11, 1995

Don’t Always Say What You Think

Share With Friends

Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say. ECCLESIASTES 10:20
We’ve all had experiences in which we said something we really felt, only to find out later that it was passed on to someone we never intended to hear it. It’s an entirely natural impulse to give voice to our thoughts about other people and their actions. Something in us wants our thoughts to have verbal expression. We simply enjoy talking about our opinions of other people.
The only trouble is that sometimes when we express our opinions, the expression does not end when we stop talking. In one form or another, it gets passed on to someone else. This is a great risk, especially with our growing dependence on e-mail and other forms of electronic communication.
But this problem isn’t new. It didn’t just surface with the new economy. According to Solomon, we need to be careful to not revile our leaders or curse the rich because a “bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say” (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Even when we think we are being especially careful, our opinions may find expression in ways that would horrify us. We say in retrospect, “I never would have said that if I had any idea that person would find out what I was thinking.”
For Solomon, keeping quiet is another manifestation of someone who is wise. If the fool multiplies his words (Ecclesiastes 10:14), then the wise man watches his very carefully. In this case, when the words you want to say involve someone who is not in the room and whose presence would cause you not to say what you’re thinking, then it’s best to simply keep your mouth shut. In fact, Solomon says that we shouldn’t even think such thoughts. And if we shouldn’t think them, we certainly should be very careful about saying them. You just never know when and where that information will resurface.

Share With Friends