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SPOTLIGHT
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In a world of noise, silence is golden

Published on -12/27/2012, 12:13 PM

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Today, information bombards us like a meteor shower. It's everywhere.

Each day our eyes see thousands of images on television and computer screens. Our ears hear thousands of words. Many people read thousands of words on the printed page.

People text and talk. They Facebook and walk. They Twitter and tweet. They blog and beep. They Bluetooth -- didn't know that was even a word until a few years ago. One thing I do know, it shouldn't be a verb.

Folks who can't speak or write our own English language are making up their own version daily, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Does anyone listen anymore?

Listening and reading. Wise men and women throughout history have told us we ought to be doing more of this. Give your eyes a rest from the video world every now and then.

Guess what?

Every day, I scan approximately a half dozen newspapers online. I even pick up a copy of the Kansas City Star and hold the "real thing" in my mitts nearly every Sunday.

And books both in paper, hardback and my Nook, I can't begin to think of how many I've read during the last 50 years. I read every day, and sometimes I have two or three books going at the same time.

One of my favorite authors, Leo Tolstoy ("War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina") used to choose a theme and offer a wise thought for each day of the year. He coupled this with quotes from some of the greatest philosophers of all time.

Here are a few of the thoughts on which Tolstoy reflected. Most have to do with listening.

After a long conversation, stop and try to remember what you have just discussed. Don't be surprised if many things, sometimes all things you discuss, are meaningless, empty and trivial.

A stupid person should keep silent. But if he knew this, he would not be a stupid person. -- Saadi

If you want to be a clever person, you have to learn how to ask cleverly, how to listen attentively, how to respond quietly and how to stop talking when there is nothing more to say.

People whose only motivation is to say something original utter many stupid things. -- Voltaire

If you have time to think before you start talking, think. Will what I have to say harm anyone? Is it necessary to speak?

Nothing can support idleness better than empty chatter. People would do better to keep silent rather than speak the boring, empty things they routinely say to entertain themselves.

First think, then speak. Stop when told, "enough." -- Saadi

Those people speak most who do not have much to say.

People are taught to speak, but their major concern should be how to keep silent.

I have spent all my life amongst wise people, and I have found nothing better than silence in this world. If a word costs one coin, then silence costs two. -- Talmud

Keep silent. Rest your tongue more often than you do your hands. You will never regret that you have kept silent, but you will often regret that you spoke too much.

Do not say words you do not feel, lest your soul be blackened with darkness. -- "The Book of Divine Thoughts."

Silence is golden. Listen.

John Schlageck, Hoxie, is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansan who writes for the Kansas Farm Bureau.

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