Tilted Windmills: The wisdom of words in brief
by Mike McLellan / For the Tracy Press
Apr 12, 2013 | 1846 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Those of us who grew up with parents who taught us through aphorisms do well in the Twitter world.

We know that everything can be reduced to short sentences. We also know that much of what we hear repeated is not necessarily true.

Lurk on Facebook or watch your tweets, and you quickly learn than balderdash can come in any length.

For example, it was common knowledge a couple of decades ago that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. My mother said so.

But today I know that a bird in the hand is not only messy, but that they really belong in the bush.

Ben Franklin might have started this whole bird-in-the-hand thing when he wrote “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” He reduced insight to brief adages.

A penny saved might have been a penny earned in his day, but a penny is irrelevant today. We might change it to a dollar saved is a dollar earned, but then a dollar is not what is once was, either.

The maxim that seemed to make the most sense was, “Honesty is the best policy.” Truth-telling is a virtue, but we soon learn that veracity is not always the best way to deal with others. While it seems good, it can turn on you. Many people pretend that they want candor when, in fact, they prefer their illusions.

When I ask someone, “What did you think of my column?” I really do not want to know. What is required is a complement and affirmation.

Any sailor knows the old saw that red skies in the morning mean a storm and red skies at night mean fair weather. In the Pacific Northwest, you can believe that a red sky at night means it is clear for a picnic, but bring your umbrella, anyway.

My mother had an epigram for any situation. She used them, in love, to impart caveats and consecrations.

For her, life was simple. Do good to others. Do your chores. Keep the rules and you can go out with your friends on Friday night.

Those of us with moms and dads who tossed proverbs at us learned early on that just because something is said over and over again does not make it true. If that were a fact, then we might believe most of the hokum that appears on Facebook.

People forward so many things that people with sense can typically tell they are deceptions.

If people would take a moment, they would not have to look things up on Factcheck.org or Snopes.com.

But, you never know.

“Like” this column by giving it a thumbs up, and you will win a new Cadillac.

A sucker is born every minute.

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.
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