Monday Motivator: The Zipped Lip is Often the Better Part of Valor

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.– Mark Twain

About two years ago, I decided to give up celebrity gossip. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice. Unfortunately, I’m now so old that I don’t even know who half these folks are. I actually had to ask a young colleague what a Kardashian was. Furthermore, I needed more free time to continue my battle with Ticketmaster. (Yes, I’m still not over my bad seats at the Snow Patrol concert!)

But last Friday, I was removing the Italian lessons from my iPod and adding the French ones when Nightline came on. The first segment was about the woman who had an affair with John Edwards. At some point, she acknowledged that she had put some unflattering things about Elizabeth Edwards in her about-to-be-published book and defended herself by saying that no one was all good and all bad in their story.

And she may be right. Still, if anyone deserves a free pass from posthumous analysis, I’ve got to think Elizabeth Edwards has to be a top candidate. After all, a son died in a car accident. She fought breast cancer. While suffering from the disease, her husband not only had an affair and a child, but denied it publicly and made himself the poster boy for deluded, selfish politicians. She died, leaving two children who are now without a mom and whom she’ll never see turn into adults. Even if she had kicked a kitten in the street, Elizabeth Edwards deserved a better final year and a peaceful death. Her children certainly deserve better.

The desire to defend ourselves is strong, perhaps never so strong as when we suspect (or know) that we’ve done wrong. And one of the easiest ways to defend ourselves is by making the victim look as if he/she deserved some of the pain. It is a nasty strategy, always beneath us.

I hate to say that I’ve not always been above this sort of strategy, and some of the things I’ve said and done still haunt me.  Take my word for it. In matters like this, even if you have to go to Target and buy Superglue to glue your lips together, don’t speak ill of others to make yourself look better. It never works.



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