To produce some good

Should I say something? Let me get back to you on that.   Self portrait, August 2015

Should I say something? Let me get back to you on that.
Self portrait, August 2015

“I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it.”Abraham Lincoln

To borrow some famous words of Yogi Berra, Lincoln really didn’t say everything he said, but apparently he really said this.  And WOW, what a quote.  Just think how much better the world would be if EVERYONE followed this rule.

Assuming one doesn’t quibble over the question “good for whom?” (which might be used to justify anything that generates publicity or commercial profit) I think it’s safe to say that a huge percentage of thoughtless and harmful chatter would be promptly eliminated if we took this idea to heart.

Can you imagine how talk radio and news commentary would be transformed by this principle? But closer to home, how might it change our everyday conversations? I like to think most of what I say is at least harmless, but I’m a long way from meeting this standard myself.

I invite you to join me in an experiment this week.  I’m going to try being more aware of how much of what I say (or write) can pass Lincoln’s test.  For some of us, this will mean saying less; for others of us, it might mean saying MORE, in the form of compliments to those who need them, encouraging words to people who are struggling, and being unafraid to share positive ideas for practical improvements in places where we tend to feel silent disapproval for how things are.

If you were to adopt Lincoln’s policy regarding your own speech, would you end up saying less? Or more?  Or the same amount, with a different focus?  Share your ideas in the comments, and let’s hope to produce some good with what we say here.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Praying always for you and Matt, sweet friend.🌟🛐🌟

    • Thank you, Cherie. Your card meant so much. Six years ago today. I know you understand. ❤

  2. M Bertoglio

    JUlia how are you and Matt?  Thanks for sending responses to some of responses,  of which i have not read them all.I wonder if you could send me a couple or three favorites nature quotes from the blog.  Tranquility at the Mountain in Marietta ( in patient hospice facility where i occasionally hang out) is putting up a nature walk for patients and wants some nature -type quotes for the walk. As i am way too lazy to go back through the blog- and i know you have more than one of these- could you get me a couple?? Healing power of nature??Tranquility is part of Wellstar home health. Maybe you have heard about them in the news.? Corporata nongrata. Or quicly becoming so. MB

    • Well Mike it looks like I’m too late for this, but I have a great excuse (Matt and I both had surgeries, and both had complications, and I’ve still not healed). But here’s a handy hint — there is a search box to the right of the full page if you view it on a computer; on a phone you might have to scroll down for it. But you can search any term you like, and find lots of posts that way. It’s a nice short cut. It’s the box that appears under the headline “Looking for something?”

      • M Bertoglio

        Well i did send in one of yours.Can’t quite recall which one. But may have been a John Muir Quote.MB

        • Good, I’m glad you found something. Another shortcut – for great quotes on nature, see Muir, Thoreau, Mary Oliver, Rachel Carson, Rebecca Solnit and many others.

  3. Oh my days, I need to do this! The book of James constantly convinces me that I need to bite my tongue a whole lot more. I’m looking forward to hearing how you get on. ☺️

    • Thank you! I wish you lived closer so we could get together and hold each other accountable! 😀 Seriously, my injury has made it very difficult and painful to speak aloud for 6-8 weeks following each of the first two surgeries so far…I keep wondering whether this is an example of God working for our good through “all things.” Isn’t the book of James wonderful? And sobering? I’m so glad you’re here, and thanks for the comment…sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

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