Don’t you wonder what phrase the author is referring to? I do …
It seems a timely quote, what with our quadrennial collective social punishment (AKA the presidential political campaign) bleeding into our consciousness from every angle.
Two requirements here for any possible candidates as “The Phrase”:
First, the phrase has to be popular enough to be repeated and passed from one person to another.
Second, the phrase has to be not quite accepted or believed.
Here are some of my candidates, with commentary:
“Everything will be OK in the end.”
“They will pay for what they did.”
“Work hard, play fair, and you will receive a fair reward.”
“Everyone respects a nice guy.”
A glance at the daily headlines will support the idea that these beliefs are not necessarily true. We strongly want happy endings, because they serve our sense of justice and fair play, and are just more enjoyable to envision.
Justice does not always visit in a tangible way … life has no guarantees that what you do will decide what you gain or experience. It’s too complex for that.
Now you WILL increase your chances of positive outcomes when you are upright, honest, and hard-working, but this is far from a sure thing.
This is why HOW you respond to adversity is important …
The unstated part of these beliefs is that “nice” will equate to “fairness”, “reward”, “achievement”, and so on, but of course, it ain’t necessarily so.
Nice guys are sometimes admired, but often passed over for positions of leadership and responsibility, in both corporate and political environments, on the public stage, and in groups.
Personally, I would rather be a nice guy, but this comes with the recognition that doing so does not guarantee anything else.
… and before you condemn me as a bloody pessimist, let me know that reality, while not always pleasant, is always where we live, not in comfortable but untrue beliefs. At least, that’s what I believe.
That said, I prefer to choose optimism on a daily basis, but I do not expect complete, total, or immediate justice … I may never see what another person experiences as a result of their actions or in spite of them.
What phrases do you think of as passing from mouth to mouth, but not being really “swallowed”?
Wondering what else I have passed along without really believing it in the Heartland ….