Hush and Listen


The scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for the intelligent. –Proverbs 14:6

If a student mocks his professor or the professor’s lessons, he will never learn. Emerson said, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” If you believe everyone has something of value that you can learn, then being humble and respectful is your best means to acquire this type of education. Well, actually there is one more thing you need, and it is something you can’t do if you are talking.


You need to listen. Not only with your ears, even though that is a good place to start, but you need to listen with your whole body. You need to be observant. You need to watch others. You need to read what they write. The signs pointing you in the direction you need to go are out there. All you have to do is pay attention to them. Watch. Listen. Learn.

Alec has gotten into the habit lately of always saying, “I know.” It bothers me because I was the same way at his age. I was a know-it-all and it prevented me from learning more. When you are blessed with a few fast-firing synapses, the brain sometimes has trouble dealing with pride. And if pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:8), thinking you have knowledge that you don’t is a recipe for disaster.

According to the Army (FM 24-18), communication is made up of two parts: the sender and the receiver. Breakdowns between the two can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Such an occurrence may be the reason why the French language is not considered a universal language and Napoleon isn’t considered some god-like figure in our history books.

Who lost the battle of Waterloo?

There are many reasons why the French did not win this battle. It could have been Marshal Ney’s insane decision to send wave after wave of French cavalry against British squares, resulting in a loss of over 8,000 men and their horses. There are few historians that like the point the finger at Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy. He was a newly installed Marshal of France and led part of l’Armée du Nord. He was supposed to prevent the Prussians from entering the battle. The communication he received from his emperor, Napoleon, was not clear to him. The messages he sent back were even more confusing, but Napoleon brushed it off. As a result, the Prussians entered the battle and a third of l’Armée du Nord never made it to the fight.

Finally, I triumphed even at Waterloo, and was immediately hurled into the abyss. On my right, the extraordinary maneuvers of Grouchy, instead of securing victory, completed my ruin. –Napoleon Bonaparte*

Just finished this account by Bernard Cornwell. Truly an amazing read.

The scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, because he is in a constant state of poor communication. The wisdom coming to him is broken and distorted. Why? Because the scoffer keeps stepping over the sender’s information. In other words, he can’t take his finger on the microphone button long enough to hear the call on the radio. The sender is doing his part, but the scoffer can’t receive the knowledge.

Turn up the television and try to read a thought-provoking book. It is hard to do. The intelligent get this. They know to filter out the noise, including their own noises, and concentrate on the information coming in. The intelligent are listening. They are observing. Gathering knowledge this way is easy.

My son:

You think you know it. But even if you do, be patient and listen. You may just learn something different. It isn’t always easy to do this. I know. I have struggled with it myself. But if you want to grow in knowledge, this is the way. Now hush, my child. Listen. Observe. Learn. Knowledge is there, waiting for you to receive it.

*Charles Angelique Francois Huchet comte de La Bedoyere, The Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte Vol. 2 (London: George Virtue, 1827) 815. Taken from

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