Daily Wisdom

Meditations on the Book of Proverbs

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,

   but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,

   but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,

   but victory is won through many advisers.


 If there is tension between you and your neighbor, rude speech will only turn it into conflict. You may think him a fool, but denouncing him reveals your own foolishness. Is it worth sacrificing your peace on the altar of pride? If you believe yourself to have such great understanding, prove it by holding your tongue – because nothing good comes from animosity.

 “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” The gossip thinks he is exposing others, but he is really exposing himself. Though what he says about others is doubtful, you can be sure that he is not trustworthy. Though the gossip fancies himself in the know, secrets are maintained by the trustworthy.

 “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” It is not enough to avoid the bad, one must also seek out the good. Among other things this applies to speech, particularly when it comes to advice. Pride is harmful when it causes conflict between neighbors, it is counterproductive when it takes the form of gossip, but it is most destructive when it rejects good advice.

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