The golfing woes of Rory McIlroy have been the focus of discussion in recent weeks.
The Holywood golfer who won four Major trophies in stunning fashion, has not been at his golfing best for some time now. His failure to make the cut at last week’s Irish Open at Portstewart was a major disappointment to all who dearly love to see an Irishman emerge as winner of the event. Coming a mere year after his stunning 2016 triumph it must have been a sore disappointment to the man himself.
Some have attempted to put their finger on Rory’s problem. He has had injuries, and therefore a lack of practice and competition time. Fellow golfer Steve Elkington had another angle on the question. Elkington claimed on ‘Twitter’ that Rory was bored, and that with £100 million in the bank it was hardly surprising. Rory, who was hurt by such a comment from a fellow-professional, snapped back that the money in his bank account was more like £200 million. That response was a bit cack-handed, coming especially from someone whose gifts to charity as so generous. It now appears that he has disengaged from social media, at least for a period. The entertainment phenomenon that is Ed Sheeran has made a similar decision, protesting that on ‘Twitter’, ‘there’s nothing but people saying mean things.’
How should one respond when people say mean things? Sir Alec Douglas-Home, British Prime Minister for a brief period in the 1960’s, once remarked, ‘In the school I attended we were taught that silence is the unbearable riposte.’ Critics desire to provoke a response, and when that response is not forthcoming they are left frustrated.
During his last days on earth, Jesus appeared on trial before Herod, the lecherous king who had ordered the death of John the Baptist to satisfy the whim of a dancing girl. Luke tells us that Herod was pleased to see Jesus, because he hoped to see him perform some miracle.
But though Herod plied him with many questions, ‘Jesus gave him no answer’(Luke 23; 9). Jesus, the very essence of sympathy and compassion, would not waste his breath on such a contemptible individual as Herod.
When critics snap at us, silence is often the best course.
The motto found on a plaque in Old Aberdeen is worth heeding. It reads, ‘They say. What say they? Let them say’.