Word of the Week: Discretion
Week of March 13 – 19, 2016
Definition: (1.) The ability to make responsible decisions. (2.) Judging wisely and objectively.
"A man with great talents, but void of discretion, is like Polyphemus in the fable, strong and blind, endued with an irresistible force, which for want of sight is of no use to him" – Joseph Addison
“Discretion is being able to raise your eyebrow instead of your voice.” – Anonymous
“Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words, or in good order.” – Francis Bacon
“Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life.” – Walter Scott
“Great is our admiration of the orator who speaks with fluency and discretion.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Let’s Get to the Point:
Silence is golden, or is it more valuable than that? If you stop and think about this week’s virtue, you recognize that if you do not use it, then who will? Like the old one-liner says: “it’s not me that can’t keep a secret, it is those I tell.” When someone confides something in you, then keep it to yourself! It is not your job to tell all those around you if someone tells you something personal or confidential. Especially with today’s social media, if you don’t want the world to know it, then don’t post it to Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat it.
Putting Words into Action:
As I researched this week’s virtue, I stumbled upon a communication blog that spoke volumes about the use of discretion. It said that discretion is truly an undervalued quality in people. David Grossman told a story about a former boss. He went to the extreme when he told his employees “Consider everything you see and hear in the workplace as confidential, unless I tell you otherwise.” The writer liked the idea in concept. Discretion means knowing when you should share information and when you should be silent. Discretion is knowing that just because you know something, doesn’t mean you need to share it. And when in doubt, leave it out.
Think About It:
My Mom used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That’s advice we can all live by. We should set the example by not talking just to hear our own voice. Discretion will save you and others from having to wipe egg off their faces. Silence is of foremost importance when it comes to using this virtue.
In Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” Lord Polonius says, “Give thy thoughts no tongue.” (Act I, Scene III) This quote tells society not to express evil thoughts or let those thoughts control your life. Those bad thoughts can eventually cause harm to yourself or to someone you love dearly. Discretion is just a series of life choices and options that determine the outcome in situations. The freedom of discretion is all about how you handle it.
Discretion is more than just will power and disposition. It is the desire of one’s heart. It leads you to where you want to be. Many people don’t have the freedom of discretion. They just wait for someone to help them with something over and over instead of just going ahead and taking action because this virtue gives on the ability to do the right thing. Are you one of those people? If so, think about how you could change not only yourself but your family and your country. You can do this just by making the right decisions and displaying good character.
There are many people on my list who manage discretion pretty well in spite of all of the obstacles that are in their way. Barack Obama is number one on the list. He does a great job taking care of numerous risky circumstances when it is needed the most. This does not mean that Obama always makes the right decisions. This just means that he is willing to try his best to handle the problems the best way possible. His desire and will power is to do whatever is needed whenever something is needed and he also exhibits good character through it all.
Always ask yourself before making a choice. Do not make quick decisions. Take your time with your discretions. Think about if the decisions you are making will help motivate, change, and direct people in your community, country, or even all over the world. You make that choice.
C/SFC Jeremiah Crawford is a student at Georgia Military College Prep School
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