Think Of These Things
The greatest tragedy of life is not that we quarrel with our fellows, but that we do not take time to know them.
In his great understanding of man and nature, Thoreau wrote, “Let a man take time enough for the most trivial deed.” Take time.
How often what seems to be an unfriendly atmosphere is only a lack of time. Some of our dearest friends are hidden behind the mask of hurry. And we need so desperately to know each other.
Understanding comes when people are allowed to talk to one another. They discover the ways and needs, the loves and hopes, and the despairs and fears when they take enough time to speak of them. All these things that make for understanding and compassion come from personal contact and the knowledge and practice of good will.
People become more civilized, more peaceful, more as God intended them to be when they take time to make friends out of acquaintances.
To be a good listener endears many a friendship. Everyone needs someone with whom to talk at length on all subjects without later regret. It has been written, “What a great blessing is a friend with breast so trusty that you may bury all your secrets in it.”
And how often we need to be that friend and be the listener, and to make sure we are worthy of that trust.
Listening comes in many ways. We listen with all our senses, knowing many times without having to be told what someone’s needs are. Charles Dickens said that no one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else. And it just may be by listening that we lighten another’s load.
Sometimes we listen with our hearts and understand in silence. Sometimes we simply have to put ourselves into a situation to understand all sides of it. And we best do so by listening.
There are relationships in our lives better and closer that the ordinary. Closer yet than brothers or sisters are those with whom we can share all our secrets, we think.
What a sad state of affairs when life imparts that others cannot always be trusted. What a shock to realize we have given all our hearts and bared our souls to people whose curiosity was the only motive that compelled them to listen.
Phillip Massinger, sixteenth century poet, wrote, “I have played the fool, the gross fool to believe the bosom of a friend would hold a secret mine own could not contain.”
Not one of us can testify that we have nothing within our lives and thoughts that we cannot reveal. And many of us have not expressed our innermost thoughts because we have found no one in whom we can confide.
As Shakespeare said, “Many a man’s tongue shakes out its master’s undoing.” Sometimes the loquacious tell their secrets not our of a need to tell them, but out of a love of talking.
One of the greatest feelings in the world is to discover we haven’t told something we cherish very much to someone we once thought we could trust.