02 February 2013

The Problem With Proverbs

How many times has an adult quoted some old wisdom upon you? Isn't it annoying? Especially when they make no sense! Here are some "wise quotes" people will tell you, and why they're completely false.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Ever heard of polio? I mean, how many people narrowly escape death and become stronger? I think this quote should say, "What doesn't kill you will give you PTSD."

"No pain, no gain." While this can be interpreted several ways to make sense, there are also many ways that it makes no sense. For instance, when you are exercising, pain does not necessarily indicate gain. Pain, in general, indicates an injury. An injury is hardly gain. Many people strain themselves following this saying, and then are surprised when they don't see results.

"Money can't buy you happiness." Try saying that to a homeless person. It cannot be argued that pleasure and comfort, which can both be bought with money, can bring you happiness. What this quote should be is, "Happiness can be achieved without money."

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." Any saying that instructs you, that tells you exactly what you must do, is inevitably wrong. For instance, when writing, different things work for different people. I have planned about two essays in my life, and those were the only ones that I got below an A on. Of course, don't take the wrong idea from this example. Planning is good. Just don't plan like me.

"You are what you eat." I don't remember eating any tall Indian girls in my lifetime. Oh wait...there was that one time...no. Just no. A more accurate saying would be, "You are how much you eat," although that isn't necessarily true. For instance, I think I eat quite a lot per day. I am nowhere near the amount of food I've eaten in my lifetime.

"He who laughs last laughs best." Does this even need an explanation? No...he who laughs last didn't get the joke. I know because my brother does that. HOWEVER: I do realize that this can be interpreted as "having the last laugh"--meaning no one can top you.

"All things come to those who wait." What, all things come to those who wait till the last minute? No, I don't think so. Nothing good has ever come of procrastination: other than the project being cancelled at the last minute.

"Easy come, easy go." Acne comes easily. It does not go easily, unless you have a cortisone injection, which happens to be a steroid, therefore rather expensive. I would not consider that easily either.

"Silence is golden." I can think of so many examples that prove this wrong. What of the woman suffragist movement? Or even the Civil Rights movement? Marin Luther Kind, Jr.? Look what silence would have brought them!

"After the storm comes the calm." Hardly. Hurricane Sandy? The earthquake in Haiti? Those were storms, and the calm certainly didn't return right after.

Furthermore, there are quite a few popular proverbs that blatantly contradict each other. I mean, how can you take one seriously and not the other?

"The pen is mightier than the sword."
"Actions speak louder than words."
"Many hands make light work."
"Too many cooks spoil the broth."
"You're never too old to learn."
"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
Clothes make the man."
"Don't judge a book by its cover."
"The best things come in small packages."
"The bigger, the better."
"A miss is as good as a mile."
"Half a loaf is better than none."
"Look before you leap."
"He who hesitates is lost."
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
"Don't beat a dead horse."
"The early bird gets the worm."
"The second mouse gets the cheese."

So next time a proverbial saying makes you want to bang your head on a wall, let 'em know just what you think about proverbs! 

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