Commentary – It’s enough to drive you crazy

Chris Clegg

Ever know someone who just likes to argue? Even if the sky is blue, they will say it’s cloudy?

As I wrote recently, they will talk just for the sake of talking, and even risk going outside for fear of their tongue getting sunburn.

Proverbs are an interesting source of contradiction. Many a wise man concocted a proverb only to let another man down the street tell him how full of it he is.

For example, I tell my friend to always exercise caution, to be very careful, to look before you leap.

“He who hesitates is lost,” he replies.

OK, I say, at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

“Don’t beat your head against a stone wall,” he says.

Imagine how may great discoveries would be lost if scientists and inventors gave up. Didn’t it take Thomas Edison hundreds of tries before he invented the light bulb?

Nevertheless, I am falling behind the debate but I’m not discouraged when I tell him absence makes the heart grow fonder.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” he says.

Really? Just how does that attitude cure one’s broken heart? Never mind!

I tell him to never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

“Don’t cross that bridge till you come to it,” he laughs.

I am still not discouraged. There must be one proverb to which there is no reply. “Two heads are better than one,” I tell him!

“Paddle your own canoe,” he adds.

Albeit, it might make for a very long and lonely trip. I’d prefer many paddlers but maybe I’m just lazy.

I change strategy and decide to go scholarly on him. I say you’re never to old to learn.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Gosh, when you stop learning don’t you stop living? I mean, there is no stopping the elderly from taking on new challenges. Age should never be barrier unless its physical, but that can occur at any age.

I continue. I will still not give up the fight, showing my stubborn streak. I tell him it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he replies.

I am getting desperate. There must be at least one proverb written in stone. I tell him to never look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” he says.

“Hitch your wagon to a star,” I proclaim.

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” he counters.

My desperation grows!

“Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

“Clothes make the man!” he counters.

No matter what I say, he disagrees. It’s like listening to debate in the House of Commons.

“The squeaking wheel gets the grease!”

“Silence is golden!”

Ah, but how many times in history has persistence paid off? Sometimes it takes years to enact new laws, to organize groups that are effective in making change. Sometimes to shut up and say nothing is a blessing for the status quo to continue.

He digs in. I just can’t win.

“A word to the wise is sufficient,” I tell him.

“Talk is cheap!” he laughs.

The moral of this story? Never live or let proverbs guide you. No matter what wise man first proclaimed, another came along to throw water on the fire.

Another friend joins the argument and foolishly takes my side. Jointly, we agree many hands make light work.

“Too many cooks spoil the broth,” he argues.

We change the subject.

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