The phrase “thoughts and prayers” should be permanently struck from our vocabulary. Any sincere sympathy it once had has been soiled by cynical politicians and others who have no intention to help.
“Thoughts and prayers” is less than the least thing anyone can do. A thought? What kind of thought? “Thank God it wasn’t me!” “I hope it doesn’t cost me reelection.” And prayer? You want to pass off your responsibility to God? Doesn’t the Bible say “faith without works is dead?”
“Thoughts and prayers” has become something people utter when they know they’re supposed to feel bad, but they don’t really give a damn.
If you’re one of those people, spare us your “thoughts and prayers,” as well as “God has a plan” and “they are in the better place.” Don’t say anything at all. Get out of the way and let those of us who actually do care go out and do something.
My granddaughter found this old book of epigrams that I bought in junior high school. I got it at a time when I started seeing myself as smart. Being able to pull quotes from smart people made me feel smarter. I loved epigrams because they are, as Oscar Levant put it, wisecracks that played at Carnegie Hall.
But I learned more from epigrams than how to sound smart. They taught me how to make my points succinctly and with a dash of humor. I also learned the hard way that a quote from a famous person doesn’t prove a point. Just because Oscar Wilde said something witty, it doesn’t make your position valid. You have to build your argument, but the right epigram can help drive the point home.
Here are some of my favorite epigrams from the book and what I learned from them.
I found the following cartoon on Twitter. It took me a few minutes on Google Translate (most of which was spent navigating the Russian keyboard) to get the translation. It loosely translates to “Don’t feel bad we don’t celebrate Halloween in Russia!” (Then how do you know when to release horror movies? Or give out fun-size candies?) The Russians agreed, “Why should we celebrate some stupid Western holiday?”
A consequence of a global society is navigating through cultural markers that don’t make sense to us. You try to contact a business associate in another country and find their office is closed because of a national holiday you didn’t know existed. And cultural symbols in one country don’t make sense in another. No one in the Southern Hemisphere is dreaming of a white Christmas. It’s the beginning of summer!
But are these cultural differences such a bad thing?