Lets kick off this piece with one of my favorite wisdom from the scriptures.
Answer a fool not according to his folly, lest you be like him; answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
I’d like to say two important things about handling offenses.
First, not every word spoken to you deserves a response. Not every action taken against you deserves a reaction. Sometimes, silence is the best answer. The bible tells us that when a fool keeps quiet on a matter, then he is considered wise. Wise men know when speech is silver and silence gold. As a rule of thumb for me, if your speech or response to a matter won’t improve your value or the other person’s value, its best you keep your opinion to yourself.
Taking into perspective the book of proverbs, 26th chapter which was earlier quoted; one thing is clear, the only time a response is required for a fool is when the response will help set the fool straight. If you are replying just to defend yourself or to hurt the enemy, you’d be either wasting energy or worst still doing yourself harm as well. Of course there would be cases in which a response should be given especially when the claims in question could affect your reputation, but even then; the availability of an appropriate answer, that won’t reduce you to level of your offender, should be considered before you respond.
Picture this, imagine me, a guy dressed up in a white shirt as i am as at the writing of this piece, and then imagine another person walks up to me and starts screaming at the top of his voice at me saying “hey, woman!, woman in pink!!”. Then imagine he persists at this to a point that he commands the attention of people around.
It would be a waste of my energy to get into a war of words with him. If i do, i would have only certified myself a candidate of yaba-left just like him. I am obviously a man and i’m wearing a white shirt. Such shenanigan behaviour doesn’t require a reply.
Whatever i say shouldn’t be said with an intention to hurt him. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. If he is saying what he is saying to hurt me and i decide to reply just to hurt him, proverbs 24 says we are both fools and I’m no better than he is. Before God and man, we are both guilty of the same thing.
So summary of point one is this, in essence, what should decide whether you answer a fool is your intention for answering. Am i answering to clear my reputation? or am i answering just to get on level terms? Do i even have to answer? To whom is my answer due? Will my answer add value to me or him or will it just keep as both in the gutter? All these questions i believe are the silent questions embeded in between those two seemingly conflicting statements of that verse of scripture in proverbs 26.
Secondly, it is best to resolve a conflict than to dissolve a relationship. Of course the terms of the relationship could change, you don’t have to be jolly good friends with everyone especially when they have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are foolish; but Jesus did make it clear that as much as it depends on us, we should be at peace with ALL men.
There is no wisdom really in making enemies or increasing the number of people that hate you. Hatred has no good to offer anybody. And so even if you believe a man isn’t qualified to be your friend, you don’t have to make him an enemy.
What does this imply? Same thing brother! Just give a wise response to the query of a fool. Dont give a response that will stir up more resentment and strife. A soft answer, the bible admonishes, turns away wrath. This is key! There is no point adding fuel to a fire a person set just to prove a point. Two wrongs can never add up to a right.
So folks, dont be quick to give a response at any time. Be sure, infact, be very sure that your answer either in words or deed will add value to you or in the least keep you where you were before you gave it. But the way words are, they never leave us the same way. They are that powerful. Once a word is spoken, it can’t be taken back; and the damage or beauty it creates is seldom easily reversed.
Have a great life people; be better!
*yaba-left is a popular psychiatry centre in lagos
IWrite, ISpeak, IInspire!!!