BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA — If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips. – African Proverb
I like quotes. I like to apply them to my life. A few years ago, I decided to invoke one that I’d heard from my mother for much of my life, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” (It’s my Mom’s birthday today so it’s nice to have the chance to say something nice about her. That’s a photo of Mom, Bonnie Green, to the left.)
Following her advice, I discovered how very quiet I became when I could only say nice things! It taught me something about myself. I was sarcastic! (Who? Me? Couldn’t be!) I was judgmental. (So are you!) I was a tad negative in a witty sort of way. (Was not. Was so. Was not. Shut up already!) I decided to change. Imagine that. It really is possible. Silence came with a price. Boredom. And a lot of people could see me swallowing the canary as I held back comment! I longed to converse again, so I began to read more books and articles that provided insight, information, and topics. What was I supposed to do with all these ideas in my head? Perhaps I could discuss what I read with others. This lead to … conversation again! Uplifting, interesting, and enlightening conversation.
One of the things that I learned is that some people don’t know how to converse. They know how to argue. Conversation is not a skill they possess. They leave no room for the opinion of others. Even worse, they might hear an idea that will require that they change a belief. That might require a little humility. Heaven forbid!
I am an addict of discussion. As a result, there are times I am exposed to the type of conversation that I chose many years ago to abstain from. On occasion, I meet a person that I believe warrants the “cutting off of lips.” They spew forth rumors, innuendoes, conjecture and pretty much a lot of garbage that muddies the water and prevents others from seeing what is so, especially themselves. Someone told me that is psychotic behavior. Only confirmed what I already knew. Insanity is involved. I believe the one who muddies the waters the most is the one who is trying to conceal their own waste.
At the end of the day what I know to be true is that, even if I know the ugly words aren’t true, they still hurt. They are the sharpest thing in the world and they hurt.