I don’t want to be guilty of that bane of older people: considering everything “back in my day” to be superior. No era or society has been perfect since Eden.
Many societal perspectives have improved from what I grew up with. And I love the conveniences, technology, and multiple ways to communicate that we have today.
But in my youth, I heard certain sayings repeated enough to become truisms. I don’t hear them any more, but I think we need them more than ever.
- “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (Evelyn Beatrice Hall). Freedom of speech used to be one of highest values in this country. Now, if you don’t fit within the prevailing narratives, you’re publicly shamed or “canceled.” We’ve gone from absolute truth to the postmodern lack of absolute truth to “My truth is the only truth.”
- “It takes all kinds to make a world.” That seemed to sum up how people reconciled the fact that others could think so differently from themselves. Along with this one was:
- “Live and let live.” Most didn’t advocate “anything goes.” There are times to speak out against wrongdoing. But we’re also not made with cookie cutters. We won’t all do and act the exact same way in everything.
- “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” This encouraged people to consider the background, personality, and perspective of others. Now, people make all sorts of judgments based on a 140-character tweet instead of trying to understand the other person’s viewpoint.
- “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”This one went around fairly recently, but it’s been quickly forgotten. Now people can’t seem to just disagree on matters large or small without vilifying each other.
- “Don’t believe everything you read.” A corollary to this was “Just because you see it on TV (or in the newspaper) doesn’t mean it’s true.” Now we tend to believe articles and posts that support our views and disbelieve whatever doesn’t.
Of course, these are limited. They are not Scripture. Some may have exceptions. But they are pretty good common sense, and some are based on Scriptural truth.
What do think? Is it possible to bring these back? Can you think of any others?
(Sharing with InstaEncouragements, Grace and Truth, Senior Salon)
Good words, Barbara, and the fact that they are “old ” makes them no less true. We mustn’t fall into chronological snobbery., so I appreciate your good work here.
I read things like this and I know I am getting old — because I agree with them! My kids, on the other hand, would probably label them as things “boomers” would say. Oh dear. I agree that there’s a lot of truth in the “old” sayings. I hope the pendulum is getting close to the farthest point and will start to swing back soon!!!
Maybe instead of binging these back we need to reframe them so modern young people can see the truth of them without being turned off by the “oldness” of them.
Hello Barbara. I found your website via Tim Challies. I’m 52 years-old and have heard all but the first one on your list. Here are a few that I’ve heard.
“Brains can be very messy places. Don’t believe everything you think.” I don’t know who said this, but I came across it several years ago. It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 10:5, and also 1 John 4.
“Keep your wits about you.” I don’t know where this originated. It reminds me to use wisdom and be discerning.
“A meaningful silence is always better than meaningless words.” I don’t know who this is by or where I came across it, but I really like it. It reminds me of Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 26:4-5, and James 3:5-6.
These are all good. I’ve only heard “Don’t believe everything you think” the last few years–such a vital admonition.
Barbara, I find myself saying these on your list with regularity. I think many of us find Christian truths with these very logical, common sense phrases. Our son is 46 and holds neither the Christian faith nor political leanings of my husband and me. There is deep love between us, but he has told me that my naivete is “charming” but completely useless in a disagreement or discussion. I’d be offended, but that would serve no purpose, in my goal of “as much as it depends on me, I will live in peace with all people.” If the Roman Christians could have that goal while Nero ruled, so can I in our society. 🙂
Thank you once again for your blog. I look forward to reading it each day it’s available.
Thanks so much for your encouraging and gracious words, Barb.
One I’ve started using with my kids, and that I think I need to be reminded of too, is “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s way too easy to let everything come out unfiltered, paying no attention to the a Scriptural admonishment to “let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)
Yes! I wish I had thought of that one and included it. I grew up hearing that. I am amazed at the horrible things said in the name of humor these days, on top of things said out of pure meanness.
I hope we can bring them back.
Good reminders! “They are pretty good common sense, and some are based on Scriptural truth.” Thanks for sharing, Barbara!
These are good and just as relevant today as then but you are right and maybe we should reframe somehow them to make them more digestable for today’s world. I grew up with “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” ,and “What goes in comes out”. And my Dad would always say “Don’t paint the devil on the wall” when we tended toward negativity or kept searching for the “what if” band thing to happen. He always used to say “A penny saved is a penny earned” also but kids nowadays don’t even know what a penny is. LOL.
I remember “If you can’t say anything nice” and “Don’t count your chickens.” It’s true, hardly anyone thinks about pennies any more.
These are great sayings, and still so relevant today. One of my favourites which I try hard to live by is ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’. People used to be so kind to each other, even with differences of opinion, nationality, political leaning etc. I wish the good old days were still around!
I appreciate each of the sayings you listed. Sadly, I had to use, “We must agree to disagree” with a friend who started spouting QAnon stuff.
Hi Barbara, I found your blog through the Senior Salon. I agree wholeheartedly that these sayings have a place in our society, but are sadly lacking today. My husband and I often talk about the fact that we, as a society, can no longer “agree to disagree.” It really IS a shame. Thanks for sharing these. It was good to ‘hear’ them again.
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I grew up with all of these sayings too. The one I still tend to say most often is this one: “We’ll have to agree to disagree.” 🙂 Great post.
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