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Keeping secrets

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Pearls of Wisdom

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Guarding a secret is the same as guarding one’s chastity. Those who keep a secret, whether personal or a friend’s, keep themselves chaste. Conversely, those who spread secrets damage their honor and reputation by leaving them unguarded.

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If you want to tell someone a secret, be sure that you could trust him or her with your honor. He or she must be as meticulous about keeping your secret as he or she would be about his or her own honor. An unreliable person, one who is ignorant of the value of chastity, should not be entrusted with keeping a secret.

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Keeping a secret and respecting the secrets of others, as opposed to prying into them, is a virtue related to power of will, self-discipline and sensitivity. Those devoid of self-discipline and strong willpower cannot guard a secret, and those who do not care about the consequences of words and actions cannot be considered discreet.

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It is usually wiser not to tell your private concerns to others, especially if they are unattractive, offensive, or lacking in merit. To do so can embarrass loved ones and delight enemies, and have other unpleasant consequences as well.

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Hearts are created as safes for keeping secrets. Intelligence is their lock; willpower is their key. No one can break into the safe and steal its valuables if the lock and key are not faulty.

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Bear in mind that those who carry others’ secrets to you might bear yours to others. Do not give such tactless people any chance to learn even the smallest details of your private concerns.

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If you entrust another secret to someone who previously disclosed one, your lack of perception and poor judgment in choosing a confidant is plain for all to see. One whose heart is firm with faith and who is vigilant and insightful cannot be deceived and seduced repeatedly in this way.

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There are secrets related to the person, the family, and the nation. By disclosing a personal secret, you are interfering with a person’s honor; by disclosing a family secret, you are interfering with the family’s honor; and by disclosing a national secret, you are interfering with the nation’s honor. A secret is a power only as long as it stays with its owner, but is a weapon that may be used against its owner if it passes into the hands of others. This is the meaning of one of our traditional sayings: “The secret is your slave, but you become its slave if you disclose it.”

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The details of many important affairs can be protected only if they are kept secret. Often enough, when the involved parties do not keep certain matters secret, no progress is achieved. In addition, serious risks might confront those who are involved, particularly if the matter concerns delicate issues of national life and its continuation.

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If a state cannot protect its secrets from its enemies, it cannot develop. If an army reveals its strategy to its antagonists, it cannot attain victory. If key workers are won over by the competitors, their employers cannot succeed.

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Explain what you must, but never give away all of your secrets. Those who freely publicize the secrets of their hearts drag themselves and their community toward an inevitable downfall.