Caution in Speech

From The Classic of Filiality

Sometimes we “shoot from the hip,” without carefully considering our words. Movies and TV shows are full of heros who “keep it real” and “tell it like it is.” In real life, though, how often are we hurt by the off-hand comments of others? More importantly, how often do our own thoughtless words harm our family, friends, and acquaintances?

Ruism values cautious, thoughtful speech. Confucius teaches us to be “slow to speak” (Analects, 4.24), even “reluctant” (Analects, 12.3). If we take the time to think about what we’re going to say, and why we’re going to say it, before we open our mouths, we’re much less likely to regret saying something unwise.