The untamed mouth

What are the consequences when our brain is not fully engaged when we open our mouth to speak? We know that at a personal level we can cause misunderstandings, hurt feelings, bruised relationships or worse. Two people, at minimum, can be harmed by a too-eager tongue.

Bad enough, certainly, but how serious are the consequences when our president opens his mouth to speak, and out spills top secret information, the sharing of which could undermine the security of an entire nation and its people?

Last week, President Trump, standing in the Oval Office, told the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador that the Islamic State had used stolen airport security equipment to test a bomb that could be hidden in electronic devices and slipped undetected into an airplane cabin, and he named the city in ISIS-held Syria in which the intelligence was gathered. U.S. intelligence officials asked media organizations not to report the type of equipment, where it was stolen, and the name of the city where the intelligence was gathered, because doing so could harm United States national security.

Yesterday President Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Washington has placed two nuclear submarines in waters off the Korean peninsula. “We have two submarines, the best in the world,” he is reported to have said. “We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all.”

Certain personalities find boasting irresistible. It elevates the speaker’s sense of self importance in the moment, makes the speaker feel important, even superior to those in whose presence he is speaking. Most adults outgrow this temptation, often by their late teens or earlier. As we age, our self image, earned through years of emotional growth and accomplishment, matures our sense of self, and we no longer need to try to impress others in this childish way. This is true of most of us, but unfortunately, some never reach that level of wisdom.

If such a person is our president, his urge to boast invites serious consequences that can harm the security of millions. We wait for him to grow up and hold his tongue, and we worry. What secrets will he give away next?


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