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READER DISCRETION ADVISED

November 12, 2009 1 comment

dis-creet [di-skreet], -adj. 1. Marked by, exercising, or showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior; circumspect.

-American Heritage Dictionary

I’ve been thinking lately about seemingly innocent evidences of indiscretion and wondering if they are as innocent as they seem. What I’m about to say sounds random I know, but I used to wonder why some people did things like continue to talk about stuff that was obviously boring someone to death merely because they got some sort of personal thrill in talking about it. Or I’d wonder why people couldn’t help but tell things they had no business telling to people they had no business telling them to. Or I’d wonder why people couldn’t stop themselves from telling a racy joke that they were half embarrassed to tell in the first place. Or I’d wonder why people, ignoring the voice inside telling them otherwise, would indulge their desire to even the score and tell someone off.

In each case (and others like it), the course too often pursued is the indiscreet one that satisfies a momentary impulse rather than one that is instinctively recognized as the more honorable course of action. It’s strange that the icky satisfaction that comes from feeding the natural fleshly desire for pleasure or revenge or humor or recognition or whatever is commonly chosen over the delayed gratification of self-restraint.

What’s been particularly troubling to me recently is that I’ve noticed my tendency toward indiscretion increasing with age. For example, I’ve noticed that I’m not as conscientious or embarrassed as I used to be about boring someone to death with information that I happen to get enjoyment from sharing. I’ve also noticed that I’m less likely than I used to be to take the high road and let a snide remark stand self-condemned by going unaddressed.

Here’s why this bit of self-awareness is troubling to me: if I allow myself to ignore my conscience in minor indiscretions then I’m only a few steps away from succumbing to more major offenses. Though subtle and easily ignored, seemingly innocent indiscretions are indications of a lack of self-restraint, self-discipline, and self-control, which can easily lead to all sorts of seriously immoral indiscretions.

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