The colour supplement of a leading Sunday newspaper runs a column entitled ’A life in a day’.
The column provides an insight into the daily routine of a person of significance, and allows them to share their life’s experience.
They are also asked to share the best piece of advice they were ever given. One recent contributor recalled the commonplace, ‘Never put off until tomorrow, things you can do today.’
Some years ago, the veteran journalist Marjorie Proops was asked the same question, and replied, ‘Sleep on it’. That pearl of wisdom has come to mind several times in recent months, and I asked myself why some people in the public eye seem to feel an irresistible urge to make an instant comment on any new development. I find myself agreeing with the politician Jacob Rees-Mogg that ‘Twitter’ is a ‘trivial’ medium, a confession which will surely brand me as ‘an incorrigible old fogey’! But ‘Twitter’ and other social media, providing scope for instant comment, have caused grief for a number of figures recently.
Mr. McElduff, has vacated the Parliamentary seat he never occupied because of an insensitive posting on social media. Even if his video was totally innocent, why does any man feel the need, close to midnight, to behave in such a juvenile fashion? Similarly, the Chief Constable sent a tweet around midnight one Saturday, and then felt compelled to apologise a few days later. And a leading DUP figure has had to apologise for a hasty word concerning the Irish Prime Minister. All three could have benefited from Marjorie Proops’s maxim.
Without sleep we should have neither the strength nor the sanity to make our decisions and perform our daily work. It is a truth all tyrants know, brainwashing victims by denying sleep for days and nights on end. A distinguished neurologist once said that half his patients, suffering from physical or nervous diseases, need no cure except the opportunity and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Two biblical insights are appropriate. Why should we deny ourselves sleep, by fretting and worrying, when God ‘neither slumbers nor sleeps’(Psalm 121; 4). He watches while we sleep, and in sleep he provides for us. Body and mind are healed by sleep - it ‘knits the ravelled sleeve of care’- and the emotions are more integrated.
Things which seemed like a good idea in the wee small hours of the morning, look trivial in the cold light of day. That’s the reality the Psalmist was expressing; ‘In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for while they sleep he provides for those he loves.’(Psalm 127;2).
So before you rush to send an explosive e-mail, or a text message, or a tweet, just ‘sleep on it’