Silence… Golden?

I realize Lau Tzu is considered to have been a great thinker and philosopher.  He was the one who said that think about teaching someone to fish instead of giving him a fish.  Ooo… wow… deep.  We smile, nod, agree, and consider the social programs in our modern day America.  But he wasn’t so smart or enlightened that he could convince me to be a Taoist.  I came across a quote of his that’s been bothering me since I read it.

Silence is a source of great strength.” -Lau Tzu

Hmm… and?!  “Keep your big mouth shut!”  “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.”  “He was really cute till he opened his mouth to speak.”  Right?  I like all these statements.  I’ve used them all.  But this one from Tzu I hate.

I think this is a really arrogant statement.  If this is meant in the sense that one could gain strength in silence and solitude, it is true for some.  But this Duck loves to drive down the road with the radio blaring singing along, talking to herself, contemplating the best course of action, and somehow the songs that have the message that I need to hear come on and I feel strengthened in that.  Silence, not so much, but strengthened nonetheless.  If this statement is meant in the sense that you should speak less and listen more, I can only agree marginally.  Points in case:

~A person tries to cut in front of most of the rest of a long line in a store, and right in front of you.  Do you tell them where the end of the line is and point out that others have been waiting a long time to check out?

~You suspect a casual friend whom you also work is the source of unsavory and untrue rumors you’ve heard about yourself.  Do you confront this person or just cut them out of your personal affairs?

~A person you’re friends with is about to make a stupid decision, a decision just like all the other stupid decisions they’ve made in the past.  Do you point out their past failures and the likelihood that this is another stupid decision?

~Someone you like hurts you by falling through on some plans you had to do something.  Do you tell them how you feel or do you wait for her or him to make it better?

~Your best pal is casually seeing someone who you think is a tool.  Do you tell them or do you wait until they discover it for themselves?

~You are out someplace when you run into your ex; your relationship was very serious and he or she ended it very abruptly.  They approach and attempt to start awkward conversation.  Do you respond to their questions and converse?

~You suspect your significant other is cheating on you but you have no proof.  Do you ask?

~Somebody near you in a restaurant is being very rude to their server and complains to the management about him or her.  You’ve been the witness to the bad behavior all evening.  Do you also speak to the management sharing what your perception of the events was?

Silence is a source of great strength.” -Lau Tzu

Sometimes it is better to bite your tongue, to be silent, and that can be a difficult thing.  But sometimes the source of strength is to say something.  Some things are worth speaking up about.  It’s not always easy.  But it’s right.

© Dulcinea 2009. All rights reserved.


One Response to “Silence… Golden?”

  1. rick heiserman Says:

    With respect I would like to note that he didn’t say “silence is ALWAYS a source of great strength”

    There are certainly times to both speak your mind, and to not. Being a good listener without passing judgment is viewed a positive attribute to many. A child may never learn were it not for their failures. Is it not wise to knowingly let a child err occasionally so as to teach a valuable lesson? I’m not saying to let a three-year-old touch a stove to learn about heat. But without failure, will we ever know the true joy of accomplishment?

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