Proverbial Thursday –

Proverbial sml

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

This week I have chosen a proverb that is so meaningful to me. Although it comes from China, it has been my mantra for raising my children and also for sharing with my friends, any skill, they would find useful. It speaks of a very practical approach to life, for where would we be without knowledge, and especially knowledge passed from generation to generation.

 

When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others – Chinese Proverb

Character is determined more by the lack of certain experiences than by those one has had – Friedrich Nietzsche

Do you agree with Nietzsche’s quote? What do you think of it?

AmandaMarienlyst

Proverbial Thursday gives me Something to Ponder About

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About Forestwoodfolk

Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. I have Scandinavian, Frisian and Prussian/Silesian ancestry and for that reason, I feel a connection with that part of the world. I am an avid Nordic Crime fiction reader, and enjoy photography, writing and a variety of cooking and crafts, and traditional decorative art forms. Politically aware and egalitarian by nature, I have a strong environmental bent.
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25 Responses to Proverbial Thursday –

  1. Mabel Kwong says:

    I thought this week’s quotes to be deep. The Chinese proverb: I don’t know if we will automatically share something that is very meaningful to us – that depends on character and personality. But among those of us who have a heart, I don’t see why we won’t share something that changed out lives. We might share it in the form of passing on that something by word of mouth, or we might pass it on through story. Or maybe even as simply through our actions.

    Nietzsche’s quote: Hmmm. If you flip the quote around, it would sort of make sense as well…. Sometimes we might desire certain experiences, be it going down a certain career path or perhaps study something we always wanted. Sometimes we don’t achieve these goals and we go down a different path in life. Maybe what that quote means, is that character is determined by how best we make the most of the pieces we have.

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    • I feel this proverb was only relating to skills or tips for enhancing our lives but could also relate to personal stories – when I learnt the Norwegian Rosemaling art techniques or that of a craft or a way of creating a therapeutic resource at work, I do like to pass on that teaching or handy tip to another person. I feel it a duty of ours, or at least our legacy, to assist future generations with useful information that we may have gleaned during our lives that will improve or help them in theirs. To me this is how we can progress. One of the modes I choose to transfer the knowledge is via a blog. But are we morally obligated to do this? In the north of Holland, there was a village whose local artists closely guarded their peculiar artistic techniques and stubbornly refused to pass this to outsiders. The result was this knowledge died along with the artists. Such a loss of knowledge.

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    • Mabel Kwong says:

      That is quite a fitting way to interpret the quote. There are always lessons to learn within legacies, and from most turning points in time. Now that you mention it, blogging is one way to do that. It is amazing how here on WP a lot of bloggers share their lives and art so selflessly and with a lot of heart. When we share, we grow and create a better future in more ways than one.

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    • Thank you Mabel. Everyone interprets the quote/proverb differently and no doubt due to their own personal circumstances, but there is no right or wrong way to read them. Perhaps the differences in interpretations correlate to the differences in personality/upbringing. Which brings me to the Nietzsche quote. I did reply above, but lost the reply comment because my smartphone did some tricky internet drop out and poof, it was gone! So anyway, apologies for the delay but I wonder if what Nietzsche was thinking was that in the same way certain experiences can shape a person a lack of basic essential circumstances might determine another type of trait. For example, a person brought up in a strict, unemotional environment where there was little physical hugging, or emotional support might find it very difficult to be all smaltzy and romantic. This shapes the way he reacts to others. Many of us fit in to the band of regular ordinary wholesome experiences in life. In the extreme ends of this spectrum, the lack of fundamental experiences can shape our moods, interactions and character. Thanks for the great and interesting discussion, Mabel. It makes that part of my brain work hard to analyse the words, and believe me, it often needs a good work out!!!!

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    • Mabel Kwong says:

      So true. Our upbringing often affects how we react to others and how we perceive the world around us. Of course, this changes as we get older and live experiences. At different points of our lives, we will see things differently, be it things on the home front, education, work and so on.

      “smaltzy and romantic” – I like this phrase a lot.

      I always look forward to our discussions on Thursdays. It gives me something to look forward to after being all day in an office 🙂

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    • Oh it is so heartening for me to know that you enjoy our discussions as much as I do. Who would have thought there was so much to discuss over a short phrase? Have you a favourite saying or proverb?

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    • Mabel Kwong says:

      I love the book The Little Prince, and there are so many good sayings from it. Really like this one: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

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    • An excellent quote Mabel, and I feel sure we have spoken previously about whether our heart or our head should rule! The heart is the centre of our emotions, and our head is the judge and jury, I think! Both should work in sync, but visually the head, as the quote so eloquently puts it, refuses to acknowledge the all important emotional component in decision making. Yet the head can also be intuitive, and intuition is something that is invisible to the eye! Was the Little Prince referring to love when he was quoted?

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    • Mabel Kwong says:

      The quote was actually said by the fox that the Little Prince encountered while on his travels in the book. The fox said them as parting words when the Little Prince was about to journey on. The fox then went on to say, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”.

      Prior to this conversation, the Little Prince was fond of a rose who was very beautiful but had a very haughty attitude.

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    • I am not familiar with this story but it sounds fun!

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  2. I agree with the Chinese proverb – when someone gives something to me – I pass it on if I don’t need it. Why should I make money out of a gift. I am not so sure about the second quote – I am a twin – we are very different – I have ‘experienced’ so much more than she has – we went down very different paths, yet both paths have defined who we are now.

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    • What a wonderful altruistic philosophy you have, Raewyn. Many of us accumulate so much clutter in our lives, from things that are given to us; things both tangible and intangible. I think it can impart so much joy to give something to others, often times more than the worth of the gift itself is the appreciation of that gift. The Norwegian sayings goes something like this. The act of making other people happy is the true form of happiness itself.
      And your comment in regard to the second quote – You spoke of your twin lacking in/missing out on certain life experiences. Do you feel that led to a different sequence of character development when compared to your own? As this is what I interpreted the quote to mean. We are all on paths, but being saved from not so good experiences, means we don’t develop thick skins for instance? When I read Nietzsche’s quote, it reminded me of a person I knew who had very little, if any,time or sympathy for sufferers of mental illness. He had simply never encountered anyone close to him with it and couldn’t understand it at all. Some years passed without us meeting again, until one day by chance we met along the walking track. After the usual greeting he told me his son had been diagnosed with a mental illness and how many people just didn’t understand the anguish he felt. We chatted about our experiences and before we parted, he told me it was so good to speak to another person who knew what he and his son were going through. This part of his character had changed from the person he was many years before, due to experiencing something in his life, (however unfortunate it was). Yet, without his son’s diagnosis he would still have no empathy for families battling mental illness and be a different character. Do you think this story relates to the Nietzsche quote, Raewyn?

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    • That is so interesting. I never thought of it that way. My twin is not very sympathetic or empathetic about my life or health issues. She thinks that because we are genetically identical we should have the same illnesses and will go to the point of ringing me up and telling me that I need to check out this disease or website. When I try to explain my issues she then shuts me down, saying that it is not fair that I am getting treatment and possibly compensation. I have been through a lot more than she has and she really can’t understand what the real implications are and trivialises it all. So yes, I can appreciate that the story is very true. I definitely appreciate the diversity of this world a lot more than she does. Simply through my life path.

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    • Thanks for your comment and sharing that with me. There are so many expectations around twins, in society, but of course, each person is different from the next because of the life they live. Nature versus nurture…. I am sorry to hear that your twin has little empathy, and that she is not supportive of you. That must make it all the more difficult for yourself. I think it is a admirable thing that you can appreciate the world’s diversity and it has not made you bitter.

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  3. The Cinese do share indeed, especially when at the table. Chinese eating places are alwas a real buzz and exciting. Family values also are strong. Joys and pains shared are joys and pains halved.

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    • That is another great interpretation of the proverb, Gerard. The sharing of food and other materials that we have. Emotional issues too can be shared and that old adage is very true. How much better one can feel to talk to a close friend or family member when there are worries in our head. A cuppa and a chat to a confidante does the average person with depression more good than a pill or a visit to a therapist!!

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  4. milliethom says:

    I like the Chinese proverb very much, Amanda. I agree with it . . . mostly. The only thing that grates a little is the term ‘moral’. I do feel an obligation to pass on knowledge, mostly to my own children, or when I’m in a classroom, but I can’t say I feel the obligation to be a moral one. With me it’s all wrapped up with my view on the importance of education, which incorporates both knowledge and skills.
    I’ve read your comments above re. the sharing of food etc.That certainly adds another, valid dimension to the proverb. When it comes down to it, each generation passes on so much to the next, often without even realising it. Perhaps we all have an innate need to do so.
    As for the Nietzsche quote, i have to say, I don’t agree with it. I believe that ‘character’ is as much a product of experiences we’ve had as much as those we have not. I could ramble on here but I’ve already done enough of that. I do think the early, formative years are all important here.
    Hope 2016 is going well for you, Amanda. I popped back onto my blog a couple of days ago to do an odd post and I’m still popping on and off. Tomorrow it’s back to the grind.

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    • The moral aspect -well that could be a long winded discussion! I feel ambivalent about whether the proverb refers to a moral ‘duty.’ Perhaps the Chinese have a different view of morals? If pushed to decide whether we have the moral duty to pass on info, skills, gifts or food, and items we have benefited from, then I would have to say yes I think we do. I think it would seem selfish to deliberately NOT pass on items and skills. I am speaking quite personally as most moral matters are personal. It may not be so immoral to not ALWAYS share but there is in my mind, at least, a moral duty TO share. You see I am conflicted on this point, Millie. I think I certainly have a very strong innate desire (but not necessarily a need) to do so.

      I think all our experiences AND the lack of certain experiences, be they desirable or undesirable, make up our character, not one or the other. Perhaps Nietzsche meant this and was simply highlighting the fact that a lack of experiences ALSO “shapes” a person’s outlook. It is not a favourite quote of mine as I feel it has an undercurrent of superiority in its words. But it did make me think. Thanks for your comment Milly and good luck with the book writing.

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  5. I don’t agree with Nietzsche’s quote, quite the opposite: I’ve been moulded by all the things that have happened to me and they’ve turned me into who I am today, always evolving. But I do think that our personal insecurities are definitely formed from the experiences we lack. And prejudices, too. Interesting quote though. The best quotes are the ones that make you want to talk about them! This was one of those 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment, SMSomewhere. As a travel writer, I am positive that your experiences HAVE moulded you into the person you are – most definitely. But without those experiences, would that be considered a lack of character development or just a different character? I am sure you would have been a creative adventurous person, (at least that it what it seems from reading your blog), even if you weren’t able to travel. The purpose of Nietzsche’s quote might have been, to make us think more deeply about how our experiences shaped the person we have become. He certainly liked to use words that were jarring, and or thought provoking! Do you think there is another way to interpret the quote, SMSomewhere?

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    • There are as many interpretations as there are interpreters, I’m pretty sure 🙂 I’ve been traveling since I was a child and so it’s always been a part of me. I’ve sometimes wondered who I’d be if my family never moved around the globe when I was little. I have no idea!

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    • It kind of does one’s head in to think about the what ifs, or the alternate universal possiblities. It reminds me of that movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. Have you seen that one? Those significant turning points in one’s life can be crucial in determining life’s directions.

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    • I haven’t seen Sliding Doors but I’ve been trying to get my hands on it for ages! I’ve heard that’s what it’s about and I’d love to see it! Funny you mentioned it, I was just thinking of all the possibilities this could bring in a movie or book plot… 🙂

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    • Yes, it would be a great storyline. A kind of back to the future in a philosophical sense. I am not sure if it will play in your region, but it is
      available at Amazon, and it mentions a newer DVD version, which might have some added extras. I hope you like it! It is one of those movies that sticks in my mind for years.

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    • Thanks for the tip!

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