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Know Jack #387 Keeping Cool

"You can't know too much, but you can say too much."

~ Calvin Coolidge

The 30th President was famous for his reticence. It seems to be a lost quality in the unrepressed urge of modern humanity to flood the public forum with every detail of their lives, including what they had for dinner. The ever-growing number of social platforms share a common thread. They provide a virtual parade ground in which people celebrate themselves. What is wrong with waving one’s own flag? It depends on intent, timing, and reception.

Timing is everything when it comes to speaking. One of my youngest daughter’s lessons was to memorize Solomon’s greatest bit of wisdom which teaches that there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak. Often the worst time to speak is when wisdom and knowledge have failed the speaker. I have heard it said that if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bull@!#*. That seldom works and cannot benefit the hearer.

On the other hand, the wrong person speaking from a vast reservoir of knowledge tends to offend both the enlightened and the dull. Being offended has almost become a professional sport with every player struggling for the most outlandish offense. Knowledge has a way of making modern people feel judged and thereby offended. In fact, correction itself is the highest form of judgment. Knowledge and wisdom are best maintained in silence.

Intent goes even deeper. “Love vaunted not itself, is not puffed up.” False intent is easily recognized. It begins by telling how all the rest of the world is wrong rather than simply stating what the speaker believes. This kind of speech is more concerned with inflating the speaker than conveying the truth. It is common among health nuts, nutrition gurus, and some old-time tent evangelists.

Coolidge is relatively unknown. He certainly knew more than most. He excelled at resisting the temptation to toot his own horn. That may have denied him a better place in history, but somehow, I think he was okay with that.


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