“Wise men speak only of what they know”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
We’ve all heard some iteration of this in some form in our travels. My father used to say to me many years ago “When you are up to your nose in poop, done open your mouth”. Of course he was more colorful in his prose. He was a Korean War vet and didn’t have much use for B.S. I guess he had seen enough over there to understand the value of his time.
I digress though….
So have you been in a conversation with someone or a group of people and there is that one person who refers to “they” or uses the term “they say”? These are the types of people Tolkien is talking about here. As an example, if we were to talk about personal finance I could hold my own with just about anyone that’s my area of expertise.
If for example we were talking about Astrology I wouldn’t know the first thing other than some cursory info on the solar system, or a guess at how many stars are out there… you get the drift.
Be mindful in your life who is speaking to what subject. It is true the older you get the more experiences you have and you can speak wisely on many topics. Another example… I can tell you and speak to how to jump start a car. Not because I am an auto mechanic but because I’ve had to do it several times in my life.
Not every wise person comes in the guise of the highly educated. A master’s degree is not required in all subjects to have wisdom in said subject. That said be wary of those who boast, who preface remarks, who use citations that don’t make sense, who refer to things that, in your heart you know just don’t make sense.
Tolkien is telling you wise men (and women) speak only what they know. Who are you getting your information from? Is this person a walking encyclopedia? Chances are they are wise in nothing at all, other than how to create the illusion of wisdom.
Interested in more wisdom from Tolkien? Check out my post here