A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
I have often quoted the first part of this verse from Proverbs but never the second. It came to mind yesterday for no particular reason. Is it a function of growing older that I am remembering, unbidden, things from my younger days? Oh dear, does this mean my short-term memory is shutting down along with the rest of me?
I exaggerate of course. I am strong and healthy and thankful for it when others my age - and younger - are severely compromised by poor health and reluctant joints and muscles. Mindful of the truism that things atrophy and die if not used, swimming, walking and cycling are all part of what passes for my routine. Brains also need exercise and to this end anything which stimulates interest must be investigated. Since I started blogging in February this year I have learnt such a lot, some of it rather mundane – for example, how could anyone enthuse about downloading a camera chip or inserting hyperlinks? I did! I have also researched spiders and butterflies, moths and wild flowers. In the past these things interested me but I had rarely recorded them and so often did not retain the names and knowledge. Now the electronic scrapbook called jabblog is my Commonplace book. I keep a personal quotation book too – an eclectic collection garnered from many sources and written in a large address book. At its commencement it posed the minor question of whether to cross-reference or not. I decided not – I have a tendency to over-complicate matters and then they become abstruse. Of course the corollary is over-simplification – oh, decisions, decisions!
I have also learned much from other blogs and been privileged to peek into the lives of people of all ages and persuasions across the planet. Thus my world expands and new knowledge brings fresh opportunities for research through books and the Internet, all of which must be used carefully. It's not enough to read information from one source for it may be incorrect. For example, one veterinary guide I possess claims categorically and completely inaccurately that epileptic seizures occur only during sleep and never when the animal is active. Another book, published in 2009, states that Ocicats are not registered in the UK – that is, the breed is not recognised by the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy) Not true!
To return to the quotation: some people maintain that an argument allows the expression of different points of view. For these people an argument is a discussion or a debate. Other folks declare that it is good, maybe even necessary, to 'clear the air' of misconceptions, misunderstandings, grudges. For them an argument is a row or, less commonly in Great Britain, a fight. Yet others hold the view that hot tempers give rise to hasty wounding words, the sting of which lasts long after the original altercation, putting the lie to the old saying, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.'
I am not confrontational. I hate arguments. Moreover it makes me feel physically ill to see people haranguing each other. I don't know that my 'soft answers' turn away wrath – it's more often the case that 'silence is golden.' This is not to say that I don't express my displeasure or grievances – I do, when the heat of the moment has passed. (Goodness, there are so many clichés springing to mind today!) Rather, I prefer to state my opinions calmly and quietly in the expectation that they will be heard and understood. I could never be a politician! I'd be reduced to a shivering wreck on the stump but as I have no ambitions in that respect I shan't worry about it.