Proverbial Thursday – Global words of Wisdom

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 think so too.

The proverb this week comes presumably as far back as Viking times when women used to wear their keys on belts around their waist.

Not all keys hang from one girdle –

Norwegian  Proverb

and a quote from  Henry David Thoreau, (American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian)

“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that is it not fish they are after.”

Comment: Thoreau appears to be thumbing his nose at those who appear blind in the metaphorical sense. Is he referring to those who bury themselves in work only to lament their all too brief time with family, upon their deathbed or in informed retirement?

What is your interpretation of his words?

Henry David Thoreau anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close observation of nature, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and Yankee attention to practical detail.  He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.[Source:Wikipedia] and his sympathies for anarchy are summed up with his words:

“That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

I doubt that this sort of government appears likely or even practical as there needs to be some leadership, some central entity. I don’t feel that anarchy is even desirable. Every ship needs a captain. In Australian politics, one government leader attempted to  govern by consensus, which whilst admirable in terms of equity, did not serve the country nor the people well in practice.

What do you make of the proverb? And Thoreau’s warning on society and life? Is anarchy a tenable option in any way?


Something to Ponder About

11 thoughts on “Proverbial Thursday – Global words of Wisdom”

  1. The best government is one it does not govern, ie where people need to be bounded by laws and rules. Remember, laws are only there to govern and punish those who will break it. If all of us can live without the need for laws because we are enlightened enough, then the government does not need to govern.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the ideal situation Mel &Suan, where there is no need for any punitive laws because citizens are bound by their own moral code and a universal altruism. Is this realistic? I suppose it is if we are conditioned from birth to care for others the environment and the future. It entails looking at the big picture. However, I don’t think everyone does this naturally. Emotionally there are opportunistic persons who think Y.O.L.O. I also think this narcissistic attitude is growing rather than diminishing in the modern world. If we lived in a world with infinite resources, perhaps we could get closer to this ideal. Utopian societies and flower power communes of the sixties achieved a small move in that direction but failed. Why did they fail?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was tongue in cheek. I sometimes think that in politics we make big mistakes. A herd instinct takes over. Look at China; not a democratically chosen Government but they now lead in doing what western democratic government are largely not doing. China is leaping forward in renewable energy.
    They are also the fasted growing economy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you. Chinese people have the practical sense and a long term vision, that usurps all other rationales. I do not think their reasoning for renewable energy is so much geared to environmental concerns as financial. It is by no means the best model of government, but there are definitely things we could learn from them. And that herd instinct can be so detrimental and abhorrent. I think of Nazi Germany and North Korea and other extremist political or religious movements when I think of the dangers of the herding instinct. Individual thought goes out the window.
      I so wish we could follow South Australia’s renewable initiatives here in Queensland.


  3. The first quote reminds me of this saying: don’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Perhaps they can go hand in hand. With the Norwegian proverb, I think it sort of means that all good things – the things that make us happy – won’t come from a single source. I am not sure what to make of the woman and the keys, not familiar with that history at all. Maybe the quote means that we have to look in different places for what we are seeking, and coming to realise that we are all connected in this world.

    Agree with the Thoreau’s quote, and interesting that it can be applied to the political arena today. Too often today, it is the blind leading the blind, going into situations without making rational decisions that benefits the majority. It could be because of ego, or maybe it could be also about getting most out of a situation for the benefit of oneself. Or, maybe this quote speaks of loss – like how so many of us are chasing careers or chasing the next best thing that we get caught up and not live in the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A valid interpretation of Thoreau’s quote, Mabel. The type of government any country has and the extent of their control over the general public’s rights, is something many are talking about, and will no doubt continue to speak about with several upcoming European elections, this year. The irony is it seems less likely to happen, as fear drives people to seek controlling leadership styles. They perceive this level of control, mistakenly, as strength. By the time the majority realize this, it is often too late to remove them from Government. I certainly don’t advocate anarchy as I said in the post unless the world and every individual has a strong collaborative moral code. It seems morals and government should have a lot in common, when, in reality, politics and politicians seem almost amoral. The prospect of achieving power distorts, corrupts and in turn seems to override morals and kindness. And yet these are the same people making decisions over our lives and shaping our future society!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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