In last week’s post, I began a discussion on Abraham Lincoln’s Rules of Conduct. I would like to continue talking about each rule, because they contain wisdom. Lincoln was an imperfect man just like everyone. Everyone is imperfect. Despite his imperfections, he still held society to a higher standard. So let’s strive together to start making positive changes in ourselves to enact change in the world around us.
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln
Finding the balance between being silent and speaking out is a struggle for everyone. Words have power so it can be intimidating to use them even when it’s right. Words are permanent in a way that nothing else we do can be. Since they are permanent and so powerful, it is incredibly important to be wise in choosing them. I think what Lincoln was trying to get at is the idea of making your words show you aren’t a fool. If you are going to speak, make it worthwhile. If you are going to put yourself out there permanently through your words, they better be words to make the world better. It’s kind of like what another great President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Stay silent when your anger bubbles up and hurtful words are anxiously waiting. Stay silent when someone cuts you off in traffic and all you want to do is scream. Stay silent if all you have to say will break someone down.
But don’t stay silent when someone is being mistreated. Don’t stay silent when someone tries to gossip with you, say no. Don’t stay silent instead of apologizing when you were wrong. Don’t stay silent when you feel prompted to speak into someone’s life.
There’s no list of rules to tell you when to speak and when to be silent. It is all discernment, which can be gained through knowledge, wisdom, or even prayer over every situation