Minute #653: Sound Bites

The news reports came over the car radio and Mr. Solomon and Mr. Heller paid close attention to all the sound bites. Each subject was covered in less than one minute of the newscast, but each contained a statement by an influential public figure.

The anchorman announced a dip in the stock market based on a statement by the Federal Reserve chairman. A military buildup on the border of two Middle-Eastern countries was precipitated by threats made by one country’s belligerent leader. An “unintentional” endorsement by a celebrity created an unusually great nationwide demand for an otherwise slow-selling product.

When the newscast was finished, Mr. Heller turned off the radio, turned to Mr. Solomon and said, “It seems that the media has created personalities with nuclear-powered speech. Every one of the people who spoke on that brief news program created ripples felt around the world. Yet when I speak, nobody listens.”

Most people wrongly believe that only high-profile personalities have a strong power of speech and are potentially “influential.” However, every person is listened to and observed by a circle of others who may be influenced by his or her behavior and pronouncements. Your co-workers, family and friends all may take you very seriously and adjust their actions based on your “sound bites.” False humility may cause you to deny the impact you may have on others, but in reality the effect may be undeniable.

One who realizes this fact will act more responsibly and speak more carefully when in the presence of others who may be affected. Like most things in life, thinking things through will result in avoidance of damage and maximizing positive results from oneactions and statements. Everyone is “influential” to some degree and everyone will be held accountable for the results of his or her actions.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Hashem only gives us punishments in little pieces. This is chessed because He loves every person and wants each of us to get closer to Him through tests, not further away. He does not give us tests that are too hard for us, because He is completely fair — He only gives us what we can do. (Gila Feder, Letters to a Friend, p. 54)