Did you see the movie The Village?  Where a group of people (plot spoiler straight ahead) created an isolated community to live sheltered from modern life and its potential traumas.  It was all other time-ly with their formal language and warnings to the youngsters of the boogie monsters in the woods, whom they kept calling “those we do not speak of”.

Well, there really are people out there we should NOT speak of.  Politicians short on substance or commitment to completing a term in office, young movie stars whose bad behavior leads judges to hand them the hard truth of consequences, professional sports figures with egos the size of the sun and trouble keeping their pants on, and the majority of other people who seem to make the Yahoo top 10 trending list.

People complain about these figures of pop culture…”When will she go away?”  “When will he get a clue?”

And here’s my solution.

Don’t talk about them.  EVER.  Don’t say their names, don’t make jokes about them at cocktail parties and don’t make fun of them in your online banter.  And absolutely DO NOT buy a magazine with one of these figures on the cover.  Because in many cases the only thing making them relevant is our morbid curiosity and desire to paint them in a poor light to boost our own egos.  And all that wasted energy leads to someone somewhere getting paid to provide “news” about them because they know we’ll keep consuming it to continue to feed our egos.

So stop.

Instead, pick people who try to contribute to the world in a positive way.  If you need to name drop the rich and famous to get you through a social occasion, pick Oprah, Bill Gates or Bono.  You may find reason to rip them to shreds, too, but at least they’re trying to make the world a better place.  You can never go wrong talking about how cool Warren Buffet is.

And maybe, maybe, maybe one day those aforementioned, but unnamed, folks will go away.

The Gift of Silence

July 11, 2010

My dear Dad took this photo of me over 20 years ago.  He was a dignified man who dressed well and I am absolutely certain he looked through the viewfinder that evening and thought Good God, my daughter looks like a two-bit whore.  True to his nature he probably came over and kissed me on the cheek and wished me a good time that evening.

Somewhere in my mid-20s I realized I had never caught my Dad in a lie.  I’m sure he did in his lifetime – I’m certain we all have.  But I conjured years of memories and couldn’t find one.  And when I realized this, I instantly knew how he accomplished it.  He kept his mouth shut.  And on the evening he took this photo, he probably did not say, “You look nice.”

My Dad was that way about a lot of things.  He was a man of strong convictions and strong opinions.  But when it came to us kids, he kept his mouth shut unless he felt it absolutely necessary.

He had faith in me that I’d find my way about things big and small.  That gift helped me learn to follow my gut and have faith in my own judgment.  Now that I have my own kids, I am working hard to do the same for them.  To be sure, I have a long way to go.