When I attended graduate school I was taught many different things. Different ideas and ways to think were impressed on me as well. Along the way, morals, beliefs, and political leanings were discussed openly and hashed over. I was taught different formatting skills for every possibility. I learned how to cite from outside sources and how to craft my own work.
I learned to build websites and fill them with appropriate content and I learned that an argument is not really an argument as most folks see it. An argument should put forth new ideas and new ways of looking at things in an attempt to better understand the issues. Both sides bring out their information and try to sway the other side to come over to their way of thinking or perhaps they both learn something and a new way of understanding is achieved.
Whether I was working on websites, written documents, or oral presentations, one concept continually tweaked my brain. Because I am a “doer” and work at whirling dervish speeds, the concept was a little more difficult to grasp than some others. The concept is that the stuff we leave out is just as important as the stuff we put in. GASP! I was being asked to fill page after page with words and ideas and thoughts and charts and headings and, and, and, and they wanted me to think about what I left out when I was struggling to fulfill the assignment by adding all that I could possibly think about.
The more I worked on things, the more I thought about that concept. I graduated and began teaching. The concept became more important as I taught students to pick only one or two fonts at most when I read through resumes or cover letters filled with curlicues, pink text, and many fonts. Then I impressed upon my students the idea that what we leave out can be more effective than the things we leave in.
Amidst all the ruffled feathers of the NFL, the natural disasters, the horrific crimes, and all the Trump bashings on mainstream media, I am even more aware of the importance of leaving things out. Seemingly our culture wants immediate and complete disclosure of every event happening world-wide. At times, our military have been put in jeopardy because of this cry for all information all the time. However, in many instances when more was needed, the information was conveniently left out to the point it is virtually impossible to know what/who to believe.
Last week I read a report showing that cellular usage by teens corresponds with higher instances of teen suicide and depression because so much information is shared publicly. Nothing is left out. Teens make a mistake at school and the whole world knows about it in just a few seconds. Someone breaks up with someone and the cyber bullies are at it before the heartbroken one can even process the news. Images, texts, and thoughts are not edited because it is easy to crucify another when it is “just online.” Everything gets published and nothing is left out.
As I ponder my life these days I am even more aware of the importance of things left out. Perhaps we should keep our opinions to ourselves a little more often and perhaps we should strive to find out all the details before making swift judgments. My sister used to tell me, “No matter how flat the pancake there are still two sides.” Sometimes we don’t have all the information and sometimes we don’t need it. Sometimes, what is left out will hurt others and sometimes what is left out is truly not important enough to mention.
Our world is filled with information and we must act, daily, as human filters. Can we believe this? Can we believe that? What makes this person do this or that? What information don’t we know that would make us think differently?
The concept that we have a choice of what to put in and what NOT to put in can become mind-boggling if we let it. Information is just one area for this concept to work. Our life can be looked at in the same manner.
What do I leave out and what do I NOT want to leave out?
Of course, I would like to leave out ugliness, untruth, and selfishness. I would like to NOT leave out kindness, grace, and integrity. Like the writer who deliberately leaves out certain words, phrases, and thoughts, I, too, can wake up every morning and make deliberate choices about my life.
Be kind or be ugly.
Be gracious or be an old goat.
Be a whiner or get on with life.
I hope that what you leave out this week will be a blessing to others and I hope that what you choose to leave in this week will be a blessing to others.