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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Don't Get Hooked

An ancient Korean proverb states: “A fish wouldn't get into trouble if it kept its mouth shut.” It’s obviously a reference to the possibility of getting hooked by a fisher.

Extrapolating from the underwater world to life on terra firma . . . most of us would do well to keep this Asian adage in mind. The reason being, what causes a huge bucket of problems all too often is the failure to keep one’s mouth shut when prudence urges one to do so. Quotes on the use (or misuse) of speaking are legion. For example, Sam Rayburn: “No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.” Yet holding the tongue seems to be one of the most difficult of all human endeavors.

Most of us remember a word-of-wisdom spoken by our mother or father. One that was directed to me by my father more than once: “Put your brain in gear before your mouth.” I’ve spent most of my life working on that . . . hopefully on a continuum toward improvement. Some days are better than others.

The message of the Korean saying can also apply to the written word. After all, words come from the brain whether spoken or written. So a commensurate awareness of what proceeds from the pen or keyboard is also wise. Namely, double-checking if what we have put into words is really what we want to publish publicly. This caution is of special note in the age of instant digital communication. “Randy, put your brain in gear before . . . ”

A key question for words from one’s lips or keyboard: is what I am about to communicate helpful or unhelpful? Constructive or destructive? I am really talking to myself here, and thought I’d let you listen in.

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