A Closed Mouth Gathers No Feet

I am old enough to remember some great speeches by national and world leaders. I remember President John F Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961, when he began “Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation” and concluded with “Ask not what your country could do for you, but what you could do for your country.” His strong words inspired a generation.

A few years later, I remember Martin Luther King Jr giving his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of a crowd estimated at 250,000 people gathered at the mall in Washington DC. He outlined a vision for the country where a person would be judged “by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.”

Practically every high school student learns Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that he gave on November 19, 1863, dedicating a cemetery for those killed a few months earlier at the battle of Gettysburg. In his speech, he pledged that the war would result in a “new birth of freedom” and that “the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Last year there was a movie about British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when Great Britain stood alone against the armies of Nazi Germany in its “darkest hour.” He rallied the British people pledging to fight against Nazi Germany and saying that Great Britain would never surrender.

Words can inspire, but the wrong words can hurt or incite violence. A wise man long ago said, “It is better to keep one’s mouth closed and have people think you are a fool than to open mouth and remove all doubt.” Sometimes silence is the best answer. Every married man knows that silence is the best option when their wife asks, “Do you think that this makes me look fat?” No matter what he says, he is doomed. In this instance keeping one’s mouth closed is best.

People in the public eye and especially our elected officials including the President should realize that anything they say will be reported and that every mic is live. Sometimes the President can comfort a grieving nation. Who can forget President Raegan’s speech after the Challenger disaster in 1986? After a white supremacist murdered nine members of a black church in Charleston South Carolina in 2015, President Obama comforted the people there by singing “Amazing Grace.”

But recently the level of public discourse has hit rock bottom with Donald Trump’s tweets and insults. Insulting foreign heads of state like calling the leader of North Korea “little rocket man” certainly won’t win one over. Nor does insulting political opponents and lying with impunity to the people. It seems like every day there is a new outlandish tweet or public insult by Donald Trump directed at someone who doesn’t agree with his policies. In these instances, perhaps silence is best. Again, why open one’s mouth and remove all doubt that you are a fool? Why embarrass not only yourself but the nation you are supposed to be leading?

Insulting someone like a 12-year-old middle school bully only serves to reinforce the belief that the person is of lesser intelligence and immature. It is bad enough when one is a 12-year-old in the seventh grade, but it becomes inexcusable when one is an adult and especially when that adult happens to be the President of the United States.

The same could be said about boasting and making promises that they cannot keep. We don’t trust salespeople who make big promises. Politicians are well known for making promises. But the current President has set a record for wild promises. Did anyone really believe that Mexico would pay for a wall on the southern border? Could any President actually bring back all those lost manufacturing and coal mining jobs that have been lost? Ask an auto worker in Trumbull County where the Lordstown GM plant closed down in March.

A good thing to remember is something that my mother told me long ago that a “closed mouth gathers no feet.” Or that it is much better to keep one’s mouth closed and have people think you are a fool.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost-effective employee benefits program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters, and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare Part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 7:35 AM, 05.01.2019