Hold Your Tongue
Some people say that their heads are right on top of their stomachs and when anything goes wrong with their stomachs they cannot sleep. An equally serious condition is one in which words are always on the tip’s of people’s tongue, so that reason never intervenes to stop their utterances. This advice was once given to those whose speech is an intemperate; “Think before you speak; then talk to yourself,” ruling of the most difficult of all tasks. For that reason, the ancient Persians taught their youth’s two things: to be secret, and to tell the truth.
Those who abuse speech are divided into three general classes: The first are those who are always “putting people in their place” as if they were ordained by God and the Constitution to “tell off” everybody for what they call “their own good.” The second class is those who detract from the merit of others by criticizing, finding fault or putting an evil interpretation on all they say or do. They go to an art museum and criticize every picture for not being hung properly, but they never see that the pictures in their own homes are all upside down. A critical spirit is born of wrong behavior. There is not a critical person in the world that is not in need of criticism. Criticism of others is an escape from necessary self-criticism. The third is made up of just plain liars. Conscious of their own littleness and insignificance or by creating a mythical world, which is built according to their own specifications.
Socrates said: “Speak that I may see thee.” Speech is the index of the mind, and the summation of a soul, all that the person has been, is, and will be. We can say: “He is an ignorant man,” “He is a proud man,” “He is a kind man,” “He is a cruel man.”
The whirlwind on the tongue is the sign of the tempest in the soul. If there is envy in the heart, it will show in the tone of the voice; if there is love in the heart even the words share the glow. But a skunk in the cellar soon smells up the whole house. It is a physical and a psychological impossibility to develop the art of a good and humble heart out of which comes out words. The power of edifying speech increases with the improvement in morals. Many of the suggestions are in reality nothing else than the art of deceit and amount to “How to disguise you feeling,” “How to praise when you want to damn,” “How to compliment when you want to condemn,” “How to influence people when you hate them.”