He closes this section with a warning on complaining about the government. Verse 20:
Even in your thought, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedchamber curse the rich;
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter. (Ecclesiastes 10:20 RSV)
There, I am sure, is the origin of the popular saying, “A little bird told me.” This may also be the first recorded instance of the bugging of a home by the government! It clearly reflects the modern proverb, “Even the walls have ears.”
Do not complain about the government even in your bedchamber or in your innermost thoughts. This is not implying that if you do your complaining might get back to the king and he will be angry with you and punish you. Rather, it is the idea that your constant complaining about problems in government creates a condition that spreads dissatisfaction with, and distrust of, government. We may be seeing something of that today. We are living with a generation that, by and large, distrusts the powers and rights of government. This may be because young people who are now entering into their majority have heard us older ones grumbling so much about the government that they have learned to distrust it, to feel that it is an unnecessary evil, and to react violently against it.
I read an article the other day which predicted that from here on no American President will be able to serve more than one term in office. The reason given was because the media so focuses upon the President and criticizes so vehemently everything he does and every word he speaks that no President will be able to stand the glare of such adverse publicity; it will be impossible to elect him to office a second term because nobody will trust him. This is a commentary in our time against too much examination of peoples’ lives, especially too much criticism of what they do. I was interested to hear one of our staff members at one of our seminars last week say that the American way is to elect a man to office, give him six months to change everything, and if he does not do it, spend the next three and a half years complaining about it. That may be close to the truth. There is a destructive element in complaining and griping all the time about what government does.