Home Columns & Editorials Dad Said it Best: Age-Old Truths for Modern Times “Don’t stir up the hornet’s nest!”

“Don’t stir up the hornet’s nest!”


“Why go looking for trouble?” Dad would ask. “Some trouble is sure to find you at some point in life, but only a fool makes himself a target by intentionally causing a commotion.”

Don’t stir up the hornet’s nest is a familiar idiom, likening hornets to angry humans, dating back to the first half of the 1700s. In case you haven’t yet experienced an unfortunate encounter with these insects, hornets are perhaps the nastiest of stingers. They attack in dive-bombing droves, and unlike wasps and bees, they live on to sting again.

People who seek out trouble are sure to find it. Those addicted to the need for attention consistently create drama by pushing other people’s buttons. They are not content to leave a matter well enough alone nor to allow sleeping dogs lie. No, they are pathological pok-ers. They blast their opinions on Facebook and Twitter, doing everything in their power to get a rise out of someone— anyone — with their inflammatory comments.

They’re the bullies at school, the drama queens at work, and those special someones among friends or family who find your soft spot, only to expose and manipulate it. They make a mountain out of a molehill, creating an issue out of nothing. Then they press the issue. Poke. Poke. Poke.

They should have learned by now, when you mess with a hornet’s nest, all the furies come out with a fierce vengeance to defend it. You’ll end up getting stung multiple times, and this type of pain does not pass quickly. Don’t ask for it.

Even when it’s an accident, the result is the same. So if you stumble into a sensitive situa-tion that’s none of your business, don’t go poking around. Just retreat quietly. If the other person really wants you to know, they’ll invite you in. But if you force your way into the hornet’s nest, the defenders will come out in attack mode. Protect yourself by maintaining a perimeter and minding your own beeswax. Remember the Proverb: It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

It’s easier to throw stones from a distance. Perhaps modern modes of virtual communica-tion, replacing face-to-face interaction in so many cases, is making us less sensitive to in-terpersonal cause and effect. When you post an inflammatory comment or punch out an offhand text or email, you are far removed from the immediate reaction of the receiver. You can’t see or hear when they get embarrassed, hurt or angry. You just see a rude re-sponse. The insults escalate and before you know it, hornets are on the warpath.

As the old Proverb goes, Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. No wonder then, whoever stirs up the hornet’s nest is guaranteed to get stung.

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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.