Magna Res Est Vocis Et Silentii Temperamentum – A Valuable Lesson Indeed!

Detective 4The proverbs of Seneca the younger provide the title and the lesson for consideration, “The great thing is to know when to speak and when to keep quiet.”  I make this statement and write on this lesson, not because I am good at knowing when to speak and when to stay silent, but in the hopes of learning more perfectly when to speak and when to talk.  In reviewing my K-12 report cards, the ones my parents had to sign, the most frequent comment is knowing when to shut up, closely followed by “Does not play well with others.”  The latter is a badge of honor; I have never played well with others!

But, knowing when to speak and when not to speak is a challenge, and in observing people, I find I might not be the only person afflicted with a lack of knowledge on this topic.  My wife is a perfect example of someone who knows when to speak and when to stay silent.  She has mastered the art of saying the exact word in season someone needs to hear and claims manners and discernment have honed her abilities.

Charles de Lint is quoted on educating children, saying in part, “Teach them to learn how to see and ask questions.”  The greatest teachers I can recall easily are those who taught me to either perceive differently or how to ask questions.  Long have I desired to return these lessons and remain enthusiastic about finding the opportunities to teach.  I often quote and consider the lessons taught by Henry Chester, who said, “Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world.  It beats money, power, and influence.  It is nothing more or less than faith in action.”  While appearing paradoxical, enthusiasm and learning when to speak and stay silent are anything but contradictory, and this is the point and the lesson for your consideration.Pin on Why Volkalize?

Why do we speak?

Of all the questions asked me in my K-12 journey, the number one question has to be an iteration of the following: “Why are you talking?”  I never could understand when to shut up.  Worse, there were plenty of times when my refusal to shut up would worsen the punishment, even though I considered the teacher’s actions immoral, unethical, or plain wrong.  For example, in 12th grade, Mr. Moro’s class, Camden-Rockport High School, Camden, Maine.  I had been a student of this school for a grand total of 1 day; this was the second class on my second day.  My first meeting with Mr. Moro, who, very clearly stated, “This is his classroom, his castle, and in his castle, he was king and demanded respect.  To which I firmly replied, NO!  He sent me to the principal’s office and said I would not return until he had a parent/teacher conference.  Being emancipated, I told him he would have to speak with me, and he could fax me!  I still have no idea what a senior class advisor is or what they do, but apparently, I had to appease Mr. Moro if I wanted to graduate.

Quotes About Listening And Speaking. QuotesGramWhy was I speaking in this incident; I was not going to be pushed or bullied by what I considered at the time a pompous moron.  I needed to change how I perceived Mr. Moro as a person.  I graduated high school, Mr. Moro never became a friend, but we did learn how to get along with each other.  Yes, I ate some crow and had to chip away at my ego.  After graduating and traveling to Advanced Individual Training for the US Army, I got a nice letter from Mr. Moro.  One of the reasons we speak is we feel put upon and do not know how to extricate ourselves, or in my case, extricate my foot from my mouth.Are you an active listener ….or do you just hear? | Psychoeducation in Psychotherapy ...

Another reason we speak is a desire to say something, but how often have we opened our mouths without forming the thought entirely, and our mouth is running way faster than our brains, common sense, and self-preservation?  In my case, way too often.  Several comedians call this an older person’s disease, not having the brain mouth filter, common sense, or good social skills to know when to say something and when to listen.  One of the reasons I love old people is explicitly derived from this truthfulness and lack of filter.

When my mother-in-law fell and had to be placed in a nursing home, long-term care facility, I made some great friends in her facility.  Not a single filter anywhere to be found.  One older lady, her name regrettably escapes me, had family who would come and tell her the filthiest jokes on the weekend.  During the week, I would visit my mother-in-law and slip her a couple of clean jokes, dad jokes, and just plain funny jokes.  One day I told her a joke about passing gas in church after a bean supper the night before.  She laughed so hard; I thought I had injured her.  I came back the next day and learned she had told the entire staff this joke, and she told me she had laughed so hard so peed herself.Raji Lukkoor Quote: "Respond; don't react. Listen; don't talk. Think; don't assume." (9 ...

I apologized to the nursing staff and armed them with a few choice dad jokes.  She did not want an apology, but she told me a story from her youth where the night before her church had hosted a community-wide bean supper, chili cookoff, raffle/silent auction, and how the next day’s sermon was cut short because the pastor could not stand the air in his church, which is when I began laughing hard enough to make me wonder if I was going to pee myself!  Worse, this was the day after serving baked beans for supper, and she and I listened to the chorus of frogs from the patients and kept falling out of our chairs laughing.Spalding, Laura - Kindergarten / Special Classes Schedule

Betty Eadie eloquently provides a caution for our words, “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely.  If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.  In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.  Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.  We can always replace negative with positive.”  The next lesson on why we speak is that our brains are too full of words and need an outlet.  Yet, how much better would the world be if we filtered our thoughts, slowed our thinking, and kept our mouths shut?

Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” – Buddha

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.” – Peter McWilliams

Listening Quotes | Listening Sayings | Listening Picture QuotesThree people from different periods of human history, all messaging a truth, thoughts do become things, and often the things our thoughts become are not what we wanted or desired.  More specifically, the thoughts became things because we expressed the thoughts that should have stayed silent in words.  In learning to control the post-traumatic stress disorder I suffer, the words of Peter McWilliams became the answer I needed and the balm in Gilead I sought.  I had to stop fighting my thoughts to be able to control the pernicious and repeated images, feelings, and constant reminiscing over a terrible incident from my service in the US Navy.  Every day remains a challenge to acknowledge the thoughts and let them go.  Every day it becomes easier to achieve.  There is hope!

Why do we listen?

Of all the questions I have never been asked, I hope to learn the lesson of controlling my thoughts so I may hear better.  I suffer from tinnitus, many times though the ability to listen does not reside in my ear where the tinnitus rings, but in my brain that is a ravaged wasteland of competing ideas, factions, and imaginations.  When the voices in my head go silent, I hear the birds in the trees, I hear voices of people around me, and I experience hearing.  The moment I begin speaking, I lose the ability to hear.Hearing Vs Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Ken Kesey is quoted as saying, “See with your ears and hear with your eyes.”  What a remarkable idea.  One of the most momentous times I can ever recall occurred while onboard my ship, deep dark of night.  You know how dark night can get if you have ever been beyond the hundred-fathom curve.  I was an engineer on the mid-watch (0000-0400) and was roaming around topside between rounds, something I should not have been doing, but I needed fresh air and wanted to see if the stars really were more brilliant at sea.  On a night with no moon, deep dark, I saw the ship passing through the water with my ears.  I heard the waves; I heard the wind whistling through the ship’s rigging; I saw with my ears the stumbling of smokers going to and from the smoke deck—an experience like no other.  Why do we listen; to learn, to experience, and if we choose, to marvel!

In the 1990’s I had a screen saver called psychedelic.  When music was played, it changed colors according to the beat, and you had user interfaces where you could pick specific interpretations to display on the screen in colors, lines, and contrasts.  This was the first time I can remember visualizing sounds.  I had previously turned the stereo speakers to maximum and watched sound interface with the water in a fish tank, but this screen saver was the first time I can remember seeing sound displayed by a computer.  Since this screensaver, I have watched sound played in flames (SUPER COOL), watched water falling display shapes as heard through a computer, and synthesized (unique experience indeed).  I have used several computer programs that took that old screensaver’s concept and improved the display and synthesization.  Yet, I am still want to hear with my eyes and see if I can improve how I listen.Hearing And Listening Quotes & Sayings | Hearing And Listening Picture Quotes

Something was pointed out to me, the word silent has precisely the same letters as listen, but in the arrangement of those letters, the ability of one is lost or found.  I have learned that a silent mouth precedes a silent mind, and you need both to listen.  Yet, it is a rare moment indeed when my brain is silent.  My brain runs lyrics to songs, words I think I should have said, words I am preparing to speak, responses to questions, responses to other people’s opinions, facts, figures, fights, and the list goes on ad nauseum ad infinitum!  A book by Stephen Covey mentioned, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand.  Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  Why do we listen; this is a valuable question to consider!

I have mentioned this previously and repeat myself only for emphasis; all the musical talent, knowledge, and skill I possess can be poured into a thimble and never moisten the bottom.  I mention this because Linda Ronstadt said, “Ninety-Nine present of singing is listening and hearing, and so then one percent of it is singing.”  A thought I had never previously considered.  I love music and have an eclectic taste in music, but I hear not listen to music.  Music has never been an escape from reality but has often been a balm to my world-weary soul.  Music has been a tool, a weapon, and a shield, in the battles for knowledge, learning, and protecting myself from the words of others.  In the US Army, Basic Training music was the key to getting me to relax and shoot the M-16A2 sufficiently to qualify and eventually graduate basic training.  But, only now, when considering Lind Ronstadt’s quote, I realized I hear music, not listen to music.Humorous Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Funny story, while my parents are hippies, my father is a professional musician but not a music teacher.  As a kid, music in our house was how food made it to the table, how my father retreated from the world’s cares, and often a weapon against my mother.  Yet, even coming from a home where music was a major part of daily life, I never learned to listen to music.  Have you ever heard reveille played on a tuba, French horn, clarinet, trombone, guitar, recorder, or flute?  If so, you know a little of what growing up in our house was like.  When 0400 came, whatever instrument my father was playing at the time became the instrument upon which reveille was played.

Knowledge Check!A song covered by a multitude of musicians originates with Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence.”  The second link is to Disturbed’s cover of the Paul Simon song; I think this is the best version.  What are the sounds of silence?  Are they different for each person?  Does the sound of silence change with the environment, the weather, or humanity’s influence?  I once read a research report regarding the negative impact of listening to the sounds of New York City and how the city’s sound shortened the lives of those who constantly heard the city.  As we consider the lesson on learning when to speak and to discern when to stay silent, may we consider how to improve listening, moving from hearing to listening, and find joy in seeing with our ears and hearing with our eyes.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

NO MORE BS: Oh Say, “What is Truth?

moral-valuesJohn Jaques (1827-1900) wrote a poem that several Christian religions have turned into a hymn by this name, “Oh Say, What is Truth.”  The sentiments of the poem/hymn/song strike me as a worthy pursuit and a commitment for life.  Here are the words of the poem.

Oh, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire;
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies.
‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice, he copes,
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast,
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time, it steps o’er.
Though the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

What is truth?

Dont Tread On MeDefining truth may appear utterly elementary, but I beg your forbearance, dear reader, with all the plastic words thrown “hither and yon” across the earth, knowing the definitions and being able to discern truth are two different processes.  Truth is defined as a quality or state of being true and something true in accordance with fact or reality.  Thus, true is defined as accurate, exact, without variation, loyal or faithful, and honest.

Would it surprise anyone that one of the words most needed in language has a global decline in usage since 1850?  I find this disconcerting and will elaborate further later.  I want to spark a thought at this moment.  With all the need for truth in the world, why is the word in decline?

Discerning Truth

Detective 4An analogy might help to improve understanding.  Using statistics, injecting a certain bias, and a low confidence level (signifying that the statistics are verifiable), I can claim that the sky is purple!  But, you will run to your window and find different colors, blue being predominant.  However, I can still justify the sky is purple and not blue.  Proving two points clearly: statistics do not prove anything, and truth depends on more than just statistical inquiry.  Mark Twain is oft-quoted as claiming a significant truth about statistics, “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.”  Yet, data, especially statistical data, has replaced words and ideas in decision-making and been used to hide truth purposefully, even though statistics can be used to lie with confidence, as demonstrated by the analogy above.

During my undergraduate statistics course, the instructor was a math lover and held a Ph.D. in math.  Great instructor, amazing class.  We took a single data set of numeric, quantitative data during the eight-week course, proved our hypothesis right, wrong, and twisted the data until even we had trouble understanding our own data.  The lesson, do not solely trust numeric data.  I mention all of this as part of the discerning process in understanding truth, recognizing truth, and embracing truth, all of which is part of the discernment process to test a fact to reach a truth.

Detective 2Please note: one of the modern problems where truth has been plasticized is making truth a reality.  For example, my statistical data is my reality; thus, I exist in a state of truth.  Which is all well and good, except as we just proved, believing in your statistics is a great way to delude yourself into believing a lie.  Worse, elements of truth make lies more convincing and improve the successful liar to a deceiver.  Hence, the process of discerning truth must contain other elements to work correctly.

The following are elements of truth:

      1. Truth does not change over time. For example, an anchor will sink to the length of the chain or bottom of the water body, which does not change over time or between fresh and saltwater, and anchors have been a facet of ships and shipping since recorded history began noting humans setting sail.  Hence, we may safely conclude anchors are a needed tool onboard a vessel and vital to shipping.
      2. If it is true for one person, it will be true for all people. Consistency is a paramount virtue of truth.  For example, electricity is carried worldwide in copper cables, shielded, and designed to carry electricity safely.  Copper doesn’t only work for moving electricity in Russia, and the Greeks have to rely upon titanium, while the Arab nations use Gold, and America uses silver.  Even though these metals are good conductors of electricity, copper shielded lines remain the consistent standard around the world.
      3. Truth advances knowledge. For example, a dropping apple helped spur lessons in gravity.  Lessons in gravity have led to space flight, airplanes, and a lot of other physics-based discoveries.

A lie cannot stand the test of time, the test of application between cultures and people, nor can it advance knowledge.  Worse, a lie, even when it contains particulars of truth, cannot long survive scrutiny.  One of the most important lessons I have ever learned in improving decision-making has been to scrutinize information.  When lies are embedded in truth, the scrutiny makes the lie stand out like a bloodstain on a white veil.  For example, when President Obama was promising that under ObamaCare, you could keep your doctor, the adults in the room had doubts, and when the law was passed, we had our suspicions proved correct.

Image - Eagle & FlagThe same pattern is available to every person who chooses to dedicate themselves to finding the truth and living the truth.  If someone is offering you the “True Truth,” be suspicious, use the elements in discerning truth, and report your findings.  I have found that the more we share truth, the less lies can deter, confuse, and hinder progress and growth.  The first step in a truth-filled, truth-centric life is knowing that statistics cannot tell the truth, ever!  If we rely solely upon statistics, we live a lie that will eventually trip us up and, like the leaders of ENRON or Bernie Madoff, finds us in jail!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Intention and Discernment – Tools Worth Knowing

Foghorn Leghorn - MedicationParents, how many times have you witnessed a toddler going about their day, an idea crosses their face, and you can tell they are about to do something that gets that toddler in trouble?  I heard a comedian talk about witnessing this as the toddler saw the cat sleeping in the sun, the toddler crossed the room and kicked the cat.  When asked why the toddler claims “it was accident.”

What is intention?

Intention is all about deliberate action, using a plan, and involving ideas in action.  According to Webster, intention is also the healing process of a wound, but this definition is not part of our discussion.  From Latin, we find intentio as “stretching purpose” and originates with intendere meaning “towards, stretch, and tend.”

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsConsider these definitions for a moment and the story about the toddler kicking the cat.  We have a plan, a purpose, and a deliberate action.  How does the parent discern the act was deliberate; the use of observation as to what the toddler had done to the cat previously, what the toddler was doing immediately before they kicked the cat, and the attempt to use an excuse to get out of trouble.

Discerning Intention.

Never Give Up!When defining discernment, I am not entering holy waters to discuss the pieces of discernment that belong to discerning for religions.  Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions, observations that empower decision-making.  Discernment can be psychological, moral, or aesthetic.  Discernment is also defined through the contexts; scientific, normative, and formal. The process of discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced understandings about its properties or qualities.

Note, there is also a legal definition, or standard, for discernment, “the cognitive condition of someone who understands; savvy, understanding, apprehension knowing about their actions before, after, and during the act;” which is where things get sticky when discernment and intention cross paths.  Hannity and Carlson disagree on the actions of the jury in the Derek Chauvin case.  Not being a lawyer and not knowing all the legal jargon, the best I can do is form an opinion.  I base my opinion on other high-profile cases where the media has condemned an individual as guilty before the judge and jury are formed.  Meaning, I feel the jury was intentionally and unfairly biased against Derek Chauvin due to the influence of the media and the mob outside the courtroom’s doors.Thin Blue Line

There was a shooting of a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer.  The girl had a knife in hand, did not listen to the police officer responding, and lunged at another person before being shot.  Again, we come to discerning intention and split-second decision-making.  Only, in this instance, the officer has no history of the person holding a knife, only reports of a stabbing and an apparent altercation involving a knife when they arrive on the scene.  I offer no judgment in this case as this case continues to unfold, details are still being investigated, and family interviewed.  Yet, the media is already off and running their biased opinions, and mobs have formed for mobocratic justice, which is never just nor proper.

Calvin & Hobbes - Ontological QuandryUnfortunately, this pattern repeats too often, and thus the need to understand discernment and correctly discerning intention.  My intent is not to make you as adept at this practice as a police officer. In a Republic, and even in many democratic societies, the citizens need to discern and discern intention, two separate processes.  The media will sell a lurid and emotionally charged story with all the bias of a bull in a China Shop and never care about the consequences.  But, the citizen does not have the same luxury or legal protections as the media.  Hence, we must discern what the media relates and discern the media’s intention before we ever read or listen to their story/reporting of events.  Thus my intent in this article and bringing up this topic, we, the citizens, are held to a higher law than the media and cannot afford to form mobs, trust the media’s reporting, or even rely upon the press reported “facts” to discern and discern intent.

How do you make a decision requiring action?

GearsThe process for critical thinking, leading to intentional decision-making, with purposeful action, generally follows the following pattern:

      1. Gather data
        • Requires knowing the validity of the source data and trusting the sources.
      2. Organize the data
      3. Make preliminary decisions and determine an action to take.
      4. Beta test the decision through application to a minimal audience to refine the solution and ensure the integrity of the data.
      5. Roll out the entire decision, including the solution and the reasoning, take timely action.
      6. Monitor and make course corrections as needed.

Detective 4These steps are useless unless we understand our own intention before launching a decision-making process.  Consider, do you intentionally believe that others are doing their best or giving their best efforts?  Do you intentionally shut down your own opinion to consider the perceptions of others in making decisions?  Where in those steps do you stop and take a moment to ponder the short and long-term consequences of the solution devised?  When making decisions, do you ever consider the axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses?”  Do we fear failing to make a correct decision if the future teaches us something new about the data changing the pattern of decision-making?  How do you learn?

Let us briefly examine that axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses,” does not mean making everyone happy.  A good compromise leaves everyone upset and feeling cheated and settled on the issue under consideration.  Yet, the media and many politicians firmly believe that unless they win everything they desire in a solution, they have been robbed and feel justified in stirring up public angst and creating a worse problem.  The adults in society must understand both the good and the ill in creating Win/Win solutions, or all is lost, and the patients run the asylum.

Anton Ego 4In going back to the analogy of the toddler kicking the cat.  Does the solution in the short-term mean corrective behavior modification for a long-term lesson learned?  Does the better solution involve instruction as well as behavior modification?  Have we, the parents, discerned correctly the intention of the toddler sufficient to justify our decision?  Will the cat be safe around the toddler in the future because of the action we take at that moment?

How do you learn?

In answering this question, we must return to the topic of failure.  Do we consider failure a learning moment?   Do we appreciate the power of failing as integral to achieving success?  A close relative of mine in high school went out for the track team as a pole vaulter.  I looked into pole vaulting to learn more and was surprised at the ways, means, and multiple times the pole vaulter will fail.  The technical skills to pole vault are incredible, almost as unbelievable as being an operations manager in a manufacturing environment and being a parent.  Hence, the need for discernment and intention.

2012-08-13 07.37.28I close with a challenge, use discernment more intentionally in learning your way through failure to success.  Liberty and freedom allow us the power to fail our way to success, but only if we consciously choose to learn and discern better our steps in decision-making.  Know your intent, take a moment every day to consider your intent, and purposefully make decisions to live your intentions.  Trust yourself to discern.  Your confidence in discerning is key to understanding and using your intention to power decision-making as a process.  Please remember, what I am discussing requires time, you will fail, but you will also win and win BIG!  Enjoy the journey of discovery!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.