Saying What Needs to be Said

“Out of your mouth, printed.” That’s what my dad always said, an admonishment to think before speaking and realize that everything spoken is forever out there, never to be taken back and tucked into a pocket.

That’s the power of the written or spoken word. It’s shared with others and its effects, good and bad, are far-reaching, spiraling like a spaceship lost among the stars.

There are many people who do not like what I write in this blog. People who are offended, or make judgments about the kind of person I am, or about how I live, simply because I share my insights and perspectives with the world.

Those same people never breathe a word of controversy, never take a chance. Maybe they live the safe life; or maybe they’re afraid.

It is a brave move to speak one’s mind, to call it like it is – especially if doing so makes people uncomfortable. It almost always does. Think about it – we prize honesty but how many of us actually live by it?

Your best friend asks how she looks in a dress and she doesn’t look good. More likely than not, you’re not the one to tell her. And when it comes to more important things – like the people we pal around with – we are ever more silent.

So I’ve been wondering lately why we all choose to live in the shadows of truth, never speaking our minds, never speaking out? I’m guilty of it too. Just the other day, I had a mind-blowing conversation that, an hour later, I had great comebacks and retorts for – but not at that given moment of face-to-face. I was spell-bound, speechless, utterly unsure where to go.

When people behave badly, should we really keep the peace, toe the line, and all those good cliches? Should we all pretend everything is fine and everyone, too? Or should we speak up?

I’ve known people who speak out no matter what the words that pour forth – and they don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. But maybe in the dark of the night they do. And maybe it’s a persona to wear like a new good coat, the I can be outspoken, I can be known for my daring commentaries.

In Judaism, there is the belief that more harm is done by careless speech than by stealing or cheating. Some believe there is no forgiveness for speaking ill. So the story goes, a man slandered the rabbi all over town, then sought the rabbi’s forgiveness. The rabbi instructed him to cut a feather pillow open and scatter the feathers in the wind. Then the rabbi told him to gather up the feathers – a job as easy as making amends for the damage words can do.

Sometimes, yes, we hurt with words but sometimes we are so afraid to look truth in the eye that we feign indignation and insult, offense and righteousness, when really, everyone has the right to an opinion, a voice and a perspective.

Think about next time you claim wounding. Have you dared to speak your mind to speak up for what you believe is right? If not, then leave others to their bravery. Because it takes a truly selfless person to dare to speak out on matters of the heart and of the mind.

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