But how many of us exercise that right?
The number of times I have been in a situation that did not require me to speak – that would have been improved had I kept silent…and there I was: drawing a big breath and clearing my throat. I can count the number of times on the fingers of about 5600 people.
It is either going to get better as I age – discretion and wisdom kicking in and all that sort of thing – or it is going to get worse when I throw caution to the winds and say what I always wanted to say anyway. I cannot really predict what will happen, as it catches me unawares.
An example. An in-law at a casual lunch started on the dear old British theme of how bad America was and how bad Americans are. I kept silent, as I know the person to be somewhat uncontrolled at the best of times…and two pints in is not the best of times. That’s elderly wisdom on my part.
After his little speech he looked at me and asked if I agreed with him. I said ” No “. Then he asked why not – I told him I was originally a US citizen and that all my relatives – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. were US citizens. It should have been a signal to him that he had made a faux pas, and one might have expected him to go silent. Nope.
To exonerate himself he then said that he thought I was Canadian. I told him I had lived in Canada for most of my childhood and youth. Again, he had a chance to go quiet. Nope.
Well, he said, if I had lived in Canada all those years, surely I would realise that he was right, because he’d heard that all Canadians hate all US citizens…and then he started on the British theme yet again. He had other relatives – British – round the table as an appreciative audience.
I’m sorry to say that the elderly wisdom deserted me at that point and I suggested that he was in a hole – and that as Will Rogers used to say, he would be wise to stop digging. Or go to another place and do another thing.
I think the pub must have turned on the air conditioner at that point in time because frost seemed to form on the party at the table. I left before they thawed.
Had my elderly discretion, wisdom, and silence been continued for just 3 minutes more…