Saturday, September 5, 2009

Speaking To My Younger Self

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions.~ Dag Hammarskjold

This quote reminds me of one I love by Benjamin Franklin: Those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. There is a price for sacrificing yourself in order to avoid conflict and it's often paid by the loss of self-respect. But it's one thing to deny your experience and convictions and quite another to know when to voice them.

If I were to give any advice in this regard to my younger self, it would be to pick your battles carefully. Credibility is far more important than you realize, especially when it comes to making a point. And it's easily lost when you treat every battle as a matter of life and death. Some are and some aren't.

I'd also say that your words carry more weight when you've thought them through carefully. The heat of the argument is no time to try to figure out what's on your mind. Forethought increases the impact of what you say, demonstrates maturity and -- here it comes again -- credibility.

If you aren't believable, what's the use of saying anything? If your comments aren't respected, it may be that you haven't shown yourself worthy of respect. The truest truths suffer most when their bearer is unworthy to speak them. So, if you want what you say to move the heart, be someone who uses his head.

Yeah, that's what I'd say.

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