“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” ~ Mark Twain, and my grandfather, Aubrey Jackson Wilson
This is something my Pop (maternal grandfather) used to say all the time. I had to laugh when I saw that it was actually a Twain quote. Both men were Southerners, so perhaps it’s a Southern thing they were both referencing. Pop loved Twain and talked about him a lot to me when I was a child. It’s hard to imagine, but for my grandfather, Twain was a living author. Pop was 20 when Twain died. And today is the 38th anniversary of Pop’s passing, so he’s been on my mind. To see this quote today, then, can’t be a coincidence. Guess it means Pop is thinking of me, too.
Pop played a huge role in my childhood, and he passed on a lot of wisdom, but this particular saying is something I quote him on to this day. It’s not that he was advocating not speaking up. Or not trying if you think you know or you are trying. He was advocating not speaking up when you don’t know what you’re talking about at all. It’s more about not blowing smoke or talking out of your hat (there’s a ruder version of that saying, of course). So many people blather on when they don’t have the facts.
Over time, I have learned to listen to this advice. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, I don’t talk. This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to first admit and then do, but it’s saved me from looking like a fool more than once.
So in memory of my grandfather, I thought it was a good one to pass on today.