Yesterday, I spoke to the new class of corps members for City Year Columbus. What a great group of budding idealists.

(That’s a major goal of City Year. Through a year of community service — like the Peace Corps, but here — young adults learn how to make a difference in the world.)

My presentation, Choosing Words, was on the ethics of speech. We discussed the type of personal and professional speech that makes life more complex. And how to curb one’s tongue to make life simpler.

During the Q&A, someone asked, "What’s the hardest part of maintaining ethical speech?"

It’s a great question, because it can be a struggle when you stop talking about other people, especially during the first weeks.

The Hardest Part Is A Silent Moment
To this day, the most difficult moment is when Alisa and I leave a party and get in the car to drive home.

It’s so quiet.

To adhere to our standards, we do not assess the hospitality — "Who drips Worcestershire sauce on a block of cream cheese and calls it hors d’oeuvres?" — or the guest list — "Louie was drunk as usual." — or the setting — "Who would ever buy those drapes?"

We just ride along. Quietly. Until there is a subject that is fit for discussion.

Happily, we never really enjoyed that post-partum conversation. I always found it depressing. We’ve always been inclined to skip it.

But, man, that moment is still awkwardly quiet. Because there are certainly things that could be said.