Silence is true wisdom’s best reply. – Euripides
What does that mean?
This quote is kind of short and out of context. That makes it very dependent on the situation. What I have experienced (from both sides of the quote) is that often times offering advice simply leads to an argument.
You have a suggestion, a perceived bit of wisdom to impart to another, and they jump all over you for trying to help. What you may not have noticed is that they were not asking for help, but simply listing the excuses for why they couldn’t accomplish something.
Other times, there is nothing you can say. This is most true in times of loss or grief. Often, your silence is the best and most helpful thing you can give to them. When have you seen silence used as the best way to console someone?
And then there is the situation where silence is the best reply to a fool. Some people are unwilling to listen, and are certain of their position. Anything you offer will be met with hostility, because you are obviously attacking them.
Why is silence important?
If you have spent any time playing music, you know that from time to time there are rests. Times when you are not playing. A little bit of silence between the other notes. Imagine a symphony where there were no rests, where every instrument had to play all the time.
That would be a bit messy, wouldn’t it? How would any instrument manage a solo, or bring a melodic bit to the front, so it could be heard and identified? Similarly, I imagine we have all been in a conversation with someone who seemingly can breathe while still talking, never taking a rest.
Besides allowing others (musical or people) to be clearly heard, silence allows for others to take their turn. Silence can also be important in itself. There are times when quiet is very nice. Right now, the rest of the family is nearly invisible, quietly reading to themselves. Silence can be relaxing and restorative as well, and that’s a wise thing to do, from time to time.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Unless you are that person who talks non-stop and never lets anyone else get a word in, you probably already use silence from time to time. But the question implied from the quote is how wisdom uses silence, and when it is the best reply.
The most obvious, to me at least, use of silence as a reply is to the rhetorical question. The proper answer to a question for which the person asking already knows the answer, is silence. The silence allows them to consider the question, and come to the proper answer without outside help.
It also forces them to acknowledge that they already knew the answer, and that they can no longer claim ignorance of the answer. For many, this is a tough way to learn a lesson, but if you keep answering the question, they won’t learn as quickly or as well.
Then there is the situation where words simply do not apply. Something tragic or something with great emotional impact has occurred. What do you say? Are there words which will suffice? What can you say to provide comfort? What can you say to help make sense of what happened?
What about the know-it-all who doesn’t really know it all? Will provoking them with the truth help the situation? Do you enjoy arguing with fools? Do you like fighting a battle which will annoy others in the room, and never ever change the other person’s mind?
What other times would silence be the wisest course of action? When someone asks not so much a question as a time-bomb (“Does this dress make me look fat?”), that might be a time to be quiet. Not that any of us have actually been in a situation like that, right?
What about when you have asked a question and the other person has avoided answering. Do you move on to another question, or do you ask it again, and then be silent, and let them sit in the silence, knowing their last attempt to not answer the question was noticed and will not be tolerated?
There are many times in our lives where talking is appropriate. There are other times when silence is the proper course. Wise people learn which time is which, and learn to hold their tongue when silence is appropriate.
From: Twitter, @MaleAlpha7
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/euripides131609.html
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