The Merits of a Well-held Tongue

America is a meritocracy.

We celebrate accomplishment, of thought and deed. We ideally carve away what does not belong.

These faces of Mount Rushmore upheld that you and I are the government. Rushmore is a monumental reminder and calling to live up to our highest ideals. Sometimes in SILENT awe.

My calling today aims toward the virtue of silence.

Thomas Hobbes smartly said, “Words are the counters of wise men and the money of fools.”

Hobbes posited that human beings are naturally selfish creatures. Naturally depraved and selfish and full of foolery unless we seek the betterment of ourselves. LEARN better.

Alas, in the closing days of my television news career, I counted few people wise of word. Some. But also many more viciously gushing noise at me. Misinformation. Disinformation. Propaganda. Spin. Fully told lies and hatefully spoken opinions bereft of a solitary pebble to support them.

These all poured into my social media and email inboxes. Some into my mailbox, a few from nattering members of Congress who thought me a sympathizer and a sychophant because of my address.

Because of my very honorable profession, I was deemed a supporter of totalitarianism, a tool of it, a snowflake, a lib, and several more foul things I’ll let you imagine. Many of these speakers vomit way more words than they have ever read.

The tone of it more fit for Sasquatch than Rushmore.

I am none of the fool that fools have presumed that I am. Nor is any of us a fool when we speak kindly a thoughtful, well-grounded truth or opinion in Locke’s ideals of freedom.

Too many do not.

We are not self-determination government by hostile meme. That is self-inflicted ignorance. We have books everywhere. We ought to be smarter than that.

I am disappointed. I have witnessed people say and forward so many outrageously false, inhumane, thoughtless, ignorant things I never thought I would see when we lived more civilized. Outside the uncivilized swamps of social media.

My very wise and kind mother and father would tell me as a boy that when people said such things then, mostly just one to another, they were just showing their ignorance. And to pay no attention to it. Now instead of passed notes in class or gossip on a corded phone, Ignorance gets a billboard — on places like Instagram and Facebook.

I am weary of it. If you are, as well, I would love to hear from you here. Otherwise I would not. Vitriol is unwelcome here.

Let’s all pause a quiet moment, looking at this picture of some random people looking up to titans of our creation and re-creation as an America. There are many more worthy of looking up to, and they are people of color, immigrants, women, others who quietly made a great difference in this great country and around the world. Who were and are its government by the people, too.

On This President’s day, this is a call to admire the power of American free speech, handled wisely, eruditely. And otherwise the power of silence.

There’s great merit in both.

3 Responses to “The Merits of a Well-held Tongue”

  1. Indeed my friend, Hobbes made a very valid, although sad and true observation of most people… Then we get to have hope and faith of more conscious people to come (like yourself).

    I appreciate your candor and sharing your truth, not all will … and who cares?!

    … and let us not forget the history and deep value of the monument across the road honoring the Lakota mystic/medicine man and chief, Crazy Horse.

  2. Natalie Tyson Says:

    Bravo, Michael. I agree wholeheartedly with you. And I hurt for you when I read hostile comments directed at you. Your parents were right. But ignorance, it seems, is taking over social media. It takes a strong, kind & wise person to “turn the other cheek” & hold your tongue. You are to be commended.

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