Monday, April 6, 2009
Catching Flies with Honey
Welcome to Monday!
Many of us have something in common. As children, we’ve heard our mother, grandmother or other relative tell us that if we can’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all.
In addition to other, less helpful advice my elders gave me (one of them was, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar”, though for the life of me I can’t figure out what that was all about), the idea that I shouldn’t say anything unkind was something I heard on at least a weekly basis.
For today’s challenge, I’d like to take that a step further.
Instead of simply focusing on what we say to others, today, I’d like you to focus on thinking before responding to someone who expresses an idea you don’t like.
We live in a world where opinions vary. What’s more, for better or worse, we also are prone to hear the opinions of others, wherever we are. We hear about them at school, at work, on public transportation, and even in our worship services.
As we know, the opinions of others don’t always match the opinions we hold dear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone express their opinion and then heard a follow-up comment from someone else like, “Oh, that’s stupid!” or “Are you crazy? You can’t really believe that!”
Comments such as those don’t really do much to change ideas or feelings. If anything, they serve more to invite a feeling of defensiveness. Arguments often ensue and before long, the situation has gone from an open exchange of ideas to a shouting match where feelings get hurt.
So, just for today, I’d like to challenge you to think before you verbally react when you hear an idea or opinion that differs from your own. Before opening your mouth, open your mind and your heart.
Ask yourself if what you are about to say will invite open and honest discussion or divisiveness and argument. Ask if it will damage your relationship with the person, or if it will enhance it.
There is a quote that has been attributed to many that says:
“It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
How fitting in today’s world where insults are thrown and mud is hurled every time someone wants to simply express their feelings or opinions.
So, today, think before you speak. Try to respond with kindness and thoughtfulness when responding to an idea you don’t like.
You don’t have to agree with everyone – for that would make a very boring world, indeed. But at least be kind. Treat the speaker with the respect and civility you would want to be treated with.
You can do this. It’s not easy, but I know you can do it.
Thank you for taking today’s challenge. I appreciate you. You may not agree with me, but that’s okay. Your feelings, idea and opinions are still valid and valued.
And, in my opinion, Service is the Action Form of Love.