We grew up with our parents and teachers sharing life principles and advices in the form of idioms or proverbs. These old and familiar sayings stood the test of time and may have shaped our personality and attitude in tackling situations in life – ‘Make hay while the sun shines’, ‘The early bird catches the worm’, ‘Honesty is the best policy’. While these well known proverbs have provided mankind with invaluable advice, here are examples why you should not be paying heed to all nuggets of wisdom.
1) Out of sight, out of mind vs Absence makes the heart grow fonder
I guess your absent lover will either be pining or playing the field.
2) Opposites attract vs Birds of a feather flock together
Do great minds think alike or do fools seldom differ? It appears that agreeing with others is either a sign of intelligence, or stupidity.
3) Pen is mightier than the sword vs Actions speak louder than words
Perhaps I should be using the pen to draw the sword.
4) Clothes make the man vs You cannot judge a book by its cover.
To be, or not to be? That is the question. Superficial that is.
5) The early bird gets the worm. Haste makes waste.
All good things come to him who waits. A stitch in time saves nine. So hurry up and wait?
6) Many hands make light work vs. Too many cooks spoil the broth
People will help your project and mess it up along the way.
7) You are never too old to learn vs You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Never give up on learning! Unless you happen to be an old dog.
8) The best things in life are free vs There is no such thing as a free lunch
But we Malaysians love free things!
These contradictory proverbs may relate to life’s uncertainties, whether in love, in business, in politics, or in health. As we cannot predict what the future will bring, in the world of proverbial wisdom, all options are covered. Whatever happens, there is always a proverb to say “I told you so!”