Rule 57. Keep your own secrets if you have any.
This rule is another from the indispensable pocket note of the Hon. Stephan Allen of New York. Who’s wisdom has outlived his own life and benefited many.
For the use of this article we are going to define secret as follows:
Properly, separate; hence, hid; concealed from the notice or knowledge of all persons except the individual or individuals concerned.
– Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
This can be any kind of knowledge, a story, a joke, an idea, or an event.
Among every family, company, and group there are two types of talkers: the tattletale, and the boaster. Of these two I dislike the boaster most.
It is bad enough when people tell the secrets and private things about another, as the tattler. But to declare private things about yourself in open company is even worse. Boasters will say whatever they think and whatever they have done
A secret, by it’s nature, usually doesn’t just involve, or effect the person who holds it. Even if the secret is about themselves it’s consequences effect those around him or may be a part of the secret.
In today’s world there is practically nothing left unsaid, we Tweet, post on Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterist. There are many people who post there entire lives online, sometimes that can lead to bad consequences later on.
Discretion is the big quality here, knowing what to say and what not to say. When we hold particular thoughts and ideas to ourselves it’s with good reason. The hidden things are best kept hidden, experience, and history have proven this. Not that we are promoting the idea of lying and deceiving, but simply discernment. What is right and proper to say to others and what is not?
What Kind of Secrets?
Any secret involving another person should be kept to you and them unless both parties are willing to air it in public. Unless such a secret is causing harm to an innocent party.
When it is a something involving only one individual they should take into account the company present. Will that joke you’ve been keeping all day be appropriate for little Suzie to hear?
Three can keep a secret if two are dead.
– Benjamin Franklin
The less you say about yourself the more others have the opportunity to ask, the more you tell about yourself the less others are going to care.
Information kept to yourself can also grant a degree of power. In The Count of Monte Cristo, the Count spends a great deal of time using the secrets of his enemies to his advantage, while they spend all their time trying to figure out who the mysterious Count is.
Like thumbscrews secrets can be used to push others. The less you spread about yourself the less likely you are to regret it later.
Discretion is the better part of valor, they say, and it’s is true enough. If you stumble across the secret of another you can gain an ally for life by keeping your lips sealed.
When we learn to keep certain things to ourselves, things others may not want to know about us, things that we might not want others to know. We usually make all parties concerned happy.
There are times when it becomes necessary to air the dirty laundry, if a kept secret is hurting other people, but rarely do your personal secrets fall into this category.
What do you think? Do you find a person who is closed lipped more trustful than one who talks freely of himself?