In cultivation, there are 3 important things we have to look after: Actions (conduct), speech, and thoughts (mind). Out of all three, speech is the hardest to control. Why do I say that? If you look at the Ten Wholesome Acts, four of them are attributed to speech. Which four? Do not speak dishonestly, harshly, divisively, or idle chatter.
Why do we need to look after our own speech? Aren't I entitled to my freedom of speech? Can't I say what I want? Freedom of speech and foolishness of speech are two entirely different things. To speak freely without wisdom is foolishness. it is ignorance itself.
When we speak dishonestly, we are cheating other people and ourselves. People cannot trust us if we keep telling lies. We live in constant worry that people may find out about our lies, and conflict then ensues. Imagine how a relationship between husband and wife would look like if both of them keep lying to each other?
If we speak harshly, we will irritate others, cause them to be angry and return the same harsh words to us. It is also unhealthy for the people around us if we speak harshly to others. Our words do not speak of compassion and kindness.
If we speak divisively, we are breaking the bonds formed between people, within the community, or between countries. We will create conflict and division between two parties who used to work together.
Idle chatter has no benefits for human relationship. Speaking something that is not beneficial, yet it harms other people, should not be spoken. If we engage in idle chatter, we may harm other people's emotions and cause other people to have evil thoughts.
The effects of speech can resolve or create conflicts. If we can learn to speak honestly, kindly with compassion, with respect, with good intentions, we can stop conflicts between people. So, we have to look after our speech. Speak with wisdom, conduct, mindfulness, compassion, and kindness, and conflicts can be resolved.