During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of
the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. Once, as he censured Stalin in a public
meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. "You
were one of Stalin's colleagues. Why didn't you stop him?" "Who said that?"
roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a
muscle. Then Khrushchev replied quietly, "Now you know why."
Today in the Word, July 13, 1993.
Anonymous philosopher, on the wisdom of silence: Once on a railway journey my father
unintentionally perpetrated some slight infraction and was unmercifully bawled out by a
minor train employee. I was young then and hotly told my father afterward that he should
have given the man a piece of his mind. My father smiled, "Oh," he said,
"if a man like that can stand himself all his life, surely I can stand him for five
Catholic Quote, Reader's Digest, March, 1980.
Casey Stengel was a longtime major league baseball manager whose unique way with the
English language became known as "Stengelese." He once said, "I've always
heard that it couldn't be done, but sometimes it don't always work." That's typical
Casey held a position on the board of directors for a California bank. According to a
story that originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Casey described his duties this
way: "There ain't nuthin' to it. You go into the fancy meeting room and you just sit
there and never open your yap. As long as you don't say nuthin' they don't know whether
you're smart or dumb."
Daily Bread, June 5, 1992.
Grace Coolidge, the wife of President Calvin Coolidge, tried to surprise her husband by
having his portrait painted. When it was finished, she hung it in the library of the White
House. Later the same morning the President happened to walk into the library accompanied
by a senator. They stared at the picture together in silence. Finally Coolidge commented
quietly: "I think so too."
Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, p. 23.
When Calvin Coolidge was President he saw dozens of people every day. Most had
complaints of one kind or another. A visiting Governor once told Coolidge he didn't
understand how he could see so many people. "Why, you finish with them by dinner
time," the Governor remarked, "while I'm often at my desk till midnight."
"Yes," said Coolidge, "But you talk back."
Bits & Pieces, August, 1989.
It had been a rather stormy board meeting and some very harsh things had been said. One
man--always highly respected and unusually wise in his judgments--had said nothing
throughout the proceedings. Suddenly one of the leaders in the argument turned to him:
"You have not said a word. I am sure we would all like to hear your opinion about
this matter." "I have discovered," replied the quiet one, "that there
are many times when silence is an opinion."
Bits & Pieces, September, 1989.
A mousy little fellow was waiting on a corner when a car stopped and a huge man got
out. "Excuse me, please," the big guy said, "but I'm a stwanger in town and
I'm lost. Can you diwect me to Wolling Woad?" The mousey fellow looked at the big guy
nervously and said nothing.
"Are you deaf?" the big man wanted to know. "Can't you speak
Still getting no answer, the big man walked over to a police officer. "Excuse me,
please, officer, but can you tell me how to get to Wolling Woad?"
"Rolling Road? Why sure -- you go down this street and turn right."
"Thank you vewy much," replied the muscleman as he went his way.
The officer watched him leave, and then went over to the little fellow. "What's the
matter with you?" he asked. "Couldn't you tell him how to get to Rolling Road?"
"Howy smoke, officer, are you cwazy? The minute I twied to tell that big wascal how
to get to Wolling Woad, he'd have town me wimb from wimb."
Quoted by James Dent of Charleston, W.Va., Gazette, Reader's
Digest, March, 1980