A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
We live in an increasingly noisy word, with the internet acting as a megaphone to those keen to share their rather strong views. Now, it may be that the effect of the internet is of unveiling, that it is simply showing us what has been there all along, but it does seem that our society is not only merely more polarised but also more condemning of those whose opinions differ from ours.
Running through the book of Proverbs is the recurring theme of speech, and today’s verse is another wise piece of advice. When we are confronted by someone who is angry, it is rarely a good idea to pour more fuel onto the flames. To answer anger with anger only produces more anger. Better to answer softly and to seek to speak.
Now, of course, it may be that the other person simply carries on being wrathful. Well, if that is the case you’ve lost nothing. It may well be, though, that your soft answers causes things to calm down and some reconciliation may be reached. If that is the case then you’ve made a great gain.
In an increasingly strident world, some soft answers might be change we all need.