While we are all gripped by election fever... we are gripped by it aren’t we? Hanging on to every word?
Oh well, maybe not but it is still worth reminding ourselves about glib tongues and what they tell us. Confucius expressed it well.
Sz-ma Niu asked the like question. The answer he received was this: "The words of the man who has a proper regard for his fellows are uttered with difficulty."
"'His words—uttered with difficulty?'" he [Sz-ma Niu] echoed, in surprise. "Is that what is meant by proper regard for one's fellow-creatures?"
"Where there is difficulty in doing," the Master replied, "will there not be some difficulty in utterance?"
It’s an interesting quote, quite apart from its relevance to the electoral games we currently have to endure. Confucius is saying that if a chap has a proper regard for his fellows, then he or she takes them into account in what is said so there is always some difficulty, some need to find most appropriate words.
By implication, the glib speaker doesn’t have the same level of regard for his or her auditors so the words come more easily. They are more formulaic. Admittedly this is a common enough experience, but as with many bits and pieces of practical wisdom it gets lost in the clamour of glib debate.
TV only seems to make the problem worse, creating an immediacy favouring the slick riposte over the considered, often more hesitant answer. We fall for it though - or too many of us do.