”He was by far the most intelligent man among them – which showed in the fact that he never missed an opportunity to keep his mouth shut”.
First time I read this statement it made me think and think twice, and I have had reason to return to it ever so often. You don´t hear that kind of definition very often, when it comes to describing who is smart and who´s not.
It´s more like if you can talk, and talk fast, and make other believe in what you are saying, then you will be considered intelligent. Somehow we think that fast talking inevitably comes from fast thinking, and that fast thinking always is the same as being intelligent, ant that being intelligent is the ultimate goal, man can´t go further than so.
Being smart is the same as being in possession of a tool.
Being in possession of a tool doesn´t mean that you are capable of using it in a good way – it doesn´t even mean that you are capable of using it at all.
The man in my quotation wasn´t simply intelligent. He was also, which is more important, wise.
Wise people are recognized by the fact that they usually are more eager to keep their ears open than their mouth.
The Bible often underlines the fact that silence is golden.
It warns us of being busybodies, sticking our noses into things that are not our business, and it warns us of talking and spreading rumours and gossip about things that are none of our concern – and when it comes to things that are of our concern we should not talk more than necessary of them, either, which means to say as little as possible.
In the sixties Simon&Garfunkel had a great hit with the song ”Sound of Silence”.
In the lyrics they expressed great concern thata certain kind of silence was groving like a cancer, which seemed a little weird, as the world then was, and still is growing louder and more noisy day by day.
But there is a certain kind of silence, that groves in the noise. A silence that means that we don´t hear the others any more. Everybody talks, nobody listens. And when no one listens, then your words might as well be unspoken – silence.
This is madness, sheer madness. The more we are trying to talk ourselves up, the more we are contributing to the pandemonium of the kind of silence that I imagine reigns in hell, the kind of silence where all meaningful sound is gone, silenced, drowned in the roar of universal condemnation.
Wisdom lays in the kind of silence that listens, the real silence, the communicating silence, the silence that gives time and space to thinking, to contemplating, to proving things.
He never missed an opportunity to keep his mouth shut.
No smalltalker indeed, he probably had very small success in the social life – unless somebody once in a while realized that here was somebody who really listened….
But he sure learned more by listening than the others learned by talking!
And he sure did less harm.