“My father had warned me, “Don’t babble. Don’t bray. For you never can tell who might hear what you say.” My father had warned me, “Boy button your lip.” And I guess that I should have. I made a bad slip.”
~Steak for Supper, Dr. Seuss
Why didn’t we wait? What was the hurry? Pressing send on the email or text, gossiping or ranting to people about perceived injustices and wrongs can result in damaged or lost relationships and jobs. There is so much we can’t know right off the bat–facts that come to light an hour, a day, a month later. Dr. Seuss was so smart. Why, oh why, don’t we button our lip instead of making a sometimes irreparable bad slip?
We always are in a hurry it seems. Eating dinner recently, I put my fork down after I took a bite. An amazing thing happened…I felt calmer and less hurried. It was how I was raised to eat: to put my fork down between bites and to take my time, but somewhere along the way I have found that rushing through a meal means there is more time for other things to be accomplished. Why? What could be more valuable than enjoying the food prepared by someone else’s hands or my own, more valuable than allowing my food to actually digest, more valuable than enjoying someone’s company–my own or whomever is dining with me? Hurrying through a meal is only one of the places we rush in life, though. As quickly as we stuff that last bite of lasagna into our mouth, we also rush to reply and to cast judgment in other situations.
A crime is committed or a mistake is made, and before the facts are known the world rushes to judgment. “We’ve heard he was drinking,” or “Reports say she was out partying and forgot to pick up her children.” It might come as a surprise when we discover he wasn’t drinking and she was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire when she wasn’t there to get her children. For some reason, humans seem to want to jump on the bandwagon of proclaiming guilt before the facts are known. Even when you think you’ve heard the truth, you might want to stick around to hear the rest of the story–there are always several sides to a story. Before we chime in with an opinion, we might want to take a few days to allow the facts to surface, and the same might be suggested when the news is more personal and invites a response from us.
Just because I fill the feeder in the yard doesn’t mean the birds will immediately come to eat. In fact, they typically hold back as if they are waiting to see if some other bird eats from the feeder and survives. Maybe that’s good advice for each of us when someone gives us their opinion, however invited or uninvited it might be, or when we disagree with another person’s point of view. It is all too easy to fire back, isn’t it? When you receive an email that gets you in a lather, type your response without an address in the ‘To’ space and see if you still feel the same in the morning, and then hit ‘Send’. Remind others that you don’t have all of the facts when the conversation pushes you to judge. Watching a lot of Perry Mason has taught me that things are rarely as they might at first appear when it comes to wrongs and crimes.
Put down your fork, move away from the keyboard, don’t participate in the conversation, and begin teaching others to do the same. Button your lip, before you make a bad slip.
“Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be contained quite unaltered through the course of hours.” ~Carl Jung