Friday, June 17, 2011

Just what does that mean, "mean what you say?"

Isn't it just like "say what you mean?"

Sort of. Well, not really. One is about clarity, and the other is about intent. Say what you mean to be clear. Mean what you say to be sincere. Words have great power, and more dangerous than the wordsmith is the person who speaks carelessly. Mean what you say when you say it. Otherwise, what's the point?

Unless of course, you are being sarcastic. Or you are twelve.

I recently spent time with two absolutely cool twelve-year olds. They are extremely polite, intelligent, thoughtful and fun for twelve year olds. But if you beat one of them at a game (any game), the most likely first response is, "I hate you." Said with a smile of course, and I knew they didn't mean it (and it didn't prevent me from trying to beat them, even though they mostly beat me -- Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3 is not for the faint of heart). I resisted the urge to correct them, to lecture them. (They are sweet kids, and they will outgrow this phase.) "I hate you" is  a pretty powerful statement, and not one to be used lightly in my opinion. But when you are twelve, if things aren't going your way, you hate it. It's that simple. I (sort of) remember being twelve. I believe I hated things that didn't go my way, a trend that lasted well into adulthood. In fact it is only in the past decade that I realize that flippant "I hate you's," "You suck's," and "I'm through with you's" have more power than I mean them to. Even in jest, these sentiments can hurt, and I realized that if I ever have to use the phrase, "I didn't mean to hurt you, I was only joking," I probably shouldn't have said it in the first place.

So mean what you say.

Now that the basic tenents of my four good ideas have been outlined, future blogs will explore the many ways that people alll over the world succeed or fail at these four good ideas and the repercussions that ensue.

Anthony Weiner, former NY congressman, is a good place to start. He could have been where he was, in a world where he was respected and influential. Instead he was on Twitter showing and sharing Way Too Much. He could have wanted what he had, a loving wife, a successful career, self-respect. Instead he wanted attention to be paid to his tighty-whitey-clad balls. He could have initially said what he meant when asked about the pictures of his tighty-whities. Instead he lied. He did mean what he said when he said, "I am announcing my resignation from Congress...".

Friday, February 18, 2011

Just what does that mean, "say what you mean?"

I loathe hypocrisy of in all of its manifestations. For one thing it wastes such an awful lot of time. When you say one thing, but mean another, all that time you took saying it was wasted. Nothing was accomplished, and you will never get back those seconds or minutes (or hours - for some reason hypocrisy appears to lend itself to long-windedness). And that time is precious. I knew a very brave woman, who four days before she died of breast cancer, was at her oncologist's office begging for one more round of chemo, which she was too weak to receive. She wanted one more day, one more week with her family, whatever time the treatment could buy her. I wish that I could have given to her all the time wasted by people who are not saying what they mean. She would not have squandered it.

For another thing, it feels an awful lot like being lied to, hypocrisy. Take your pick of hypo-Christian preachers who preach endlessly about the sins of the flesh, all the while reveling in those same sins after hours. Not only do they waste the time of the people to whom they minister, they take their money too. That's lying and stealing. (Tithing is a racket - of that I am certain.) Lord don't even get me started on the pedophile priests, who lie, steal and maim. They destroy the very souls they vow to save.

I will admit I have trouble with this good idea sometimes, but not out of hypocrisy. Sarcasm is the art of saying the opposite of what you mean, but saying it in such a snide way, that everyone knows what you are actually trying to say. I am a big fan of sarcasm, though I concede that not everyone is, and I suspect I have lost the opportunity to make close friends of some people who didn't appreciate my sarcasm. (A really good sense of humor is a rare and wonderful thing, and worth taking the time to cultivate.) I have spent a good part of my life trying to tone down my sarcasm so as not to offend (in other words, learning to shut the f*ck up.) I've made good progress. There is work yet to do. But I do say what I mean.

If I say I will be there at 8 o'clock, I will be there at 8 o'clock, not 8:15, not twenty past. Your time is precious too, and I will not waste it for you. Not deliberately anyway. (Of course if you are reading this, I have wasted a bit already - or not.) If I say I support you 100%, I support you 100%, not 90% to your face and the other 10% telling folks behind your back that you'll never succeed. If I say I love you, believe it. I would not waste my time or yours saying that and not meaning it.

Benjamin Hoff in The Tao of Pooh very correctly states that you cannot save time, you can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.

Spend it well. It is precious, and its quantity is numbered.