There are so many cliches in our lives, idioms, and standard responses that go unconsidered; they are said without thought, and often they are evil. I know, it is perhaps considered incendiary to call something as simple as a cliche evil. But when good people repeat over and over little phrases or aphorisms that are kernels of bad thoughts and wicked philosophies, I think they are propagandizing themselves without even realizing it. They are teaching themselves to accept a certain set of ideas, that in its completion, is evil. For every evil saying however, I think there ought to be a good one. In many cases they already exist, it is just that in the modern world only a few old people still say the good ones. Here are the ones that brought this subject to mind.
Let us start with a stupid one: ‘That worked like a charm.’ Well, it just sat there making you feel psychologically better and perhaps a little smug? Did it have no effect, purpose or utility beyond merely placebo? Then it worked like a charm… as in, it did nothing. Even in this merely stupid idiom, there is a hint of the perverse. Superstition causes all manner of issues, and to speak as if charms work is for barbarians, not for either Christians nor atheists. Perhaps we could replace it with something like ‘Well that worked like gas chromatography!’…
Gas Chromatography… it really works!
Here is another questionable cliche: ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ I could make a double case for this. In the short term, the desire to see someone or something makes a person fonder of that someone. However, in actuality, absence leads to, well more absence. Separation generally tends to making people grow apart. So… absence makes the heart grow… absent?
Ok, I said evil before, and now I will deliver. The cliche ‘The ends justify the means.’ and all of its counterparts, variations and modulations should be cut out of the vocabulary of every person and sent to hell. The belief that is the end is good enough, or desirable enough that it can justify any means is perhaps the leading excuse of all evil ever. For instance, communism claims to have a way to building a utopia, an earthly paradise. They just have to reorganize society, by force. And if you happen to be a kulak, well, ‘you have to break some eggs to make an omelet’. Or if you are a Maoist, recall the 18-45 (Wikipedia numbers) million people who died in the ‘Great Leap Forward‘ to reorganize society. Or perhaps another example would be good. ‘You should have wisdom and understand good and evil (desirable end) so rebel against God (unjustifiable means).’ The opposite side of this cliche battle is perhaps ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ However, no one really says that, and it isn’t a terribly pithy saying. I think something like ‘evil means breed evil ends’ is better… but I don’t get to just make up sayings, its not like I am Ben Franklin.
Another evil one is used mainly by simpering fools who have never either physically or intellectually encountered any real violence. They say that violence begets violence. (A plethora of variants exist like: ‘War is not the answer.’ ‘stop the cycle of violence’) The constant harping on this from shows like Dr. Who makes me almost ready to give up the show entirely. In the episode ‘A Town Called Mercy’ the Doctor almost realizes his tragic flaw: his simpering inability to be Just. For the few people who may stumble upon this and not know Dr. Who, the Doctor has several enemies but I will just mention the Master. Over and over the Doctor spares the Master’s life, and over and over the Master commits genocide, slaughter, and all sorts of wicked crimes. (Which in a TV show, the villain should do bad things, that’s not the problem.) The problem is that the Doctor is culpable for letting a pure evil entity go, simply because he thinks that violence breeds violence. In reality, human nature breeds violence. I read an article recently about the warring in Congo. The author seemed utterly at a loss as to why the roving bands of men committed such horrific rapes: they serve no tactical purpose… The answer is simply that they do such things because there is no one to stop them. In reality, the only thing ever proven to stop a violent evil man is a good one willing to also commit violence. Think of the Waynes. (Dr. Who, the Congo, and now Batman? Deal with it, it’s a blog 🙂 )
Bruce’s parents were murdered because his dad was either unwilling or incapable of anything other than talk. Violence (shooting the criminal or just attacking him physically) might or would have stopped this violent act.Compare that ‘Throw me your wallet’ scene with the one from The Shootist (about 0:45 into this clip)
The only way to stop the horrors in the Congo is if large numbers of decent men (preferable an army) hunt down the bands of barbaric wicked ones, and do violence. I think this cliche was invented to make cowardice fashionable. Something I seem to recall Lewis talking about in The Screwtape Letters, how they (the devils) had not yet succeeded in making cowardice acceptable. I think, though the world view that gives up such idioms as ‘violence begets violence’, they (the devils again) rather have. As for the other side in this little battle, there is the cliche often attributed to Edmund Burk. ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ Again, not very pithy is it? I don’t have any suggestions for alternates though.
Well, my rant is over, and I only talked about four cliches. Oh well, feel free to bring up good or evil cliches in the comments.