do you get tired of clichés?

do you get tired of clichés? May 20, 2013
more cliches cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
click on image to shop for David’s artwork, cartoons and Sophia

I’ve been thinking a lot about clichés because when I scroll through Facebook I get overwhelmed with how many are posted there and how many likes they get.

The thing about a cliché is that it is born out of someone’s experience and wisdom. They are words that emerged out of the crucible of suffering, temptation, testing, sacrifice, love, patience, lots of hard work and insight.

So I’m going to use the Top 10 Spiritual Clichés. Let’s start with this one attributed to Hopi elders:

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

I would agree. It is wise to take responsibility and “be the change we want to see in the world” (Gandhi). We shouldn’t leave the solution to our problems with someone else, and we shouldn’t leave the mess we’ve made to others. It is our responsibility! It is time to grow up and effect change. We are the ones who should “be here now” (Ram Dass). And it doesn’t take many: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world” (Margaret Mead). Let us work together no matter what different creeds we subscribe to. “Out beyond right and wrong there is a field. I will meet you there” (Rumi). This is a place of real joy where we should “dance like no one is watching; love like you’ve never been hurt; sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth” (Mark Twain). Because this is heaven on earth! “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin). Even though the task seems arduous, this is not impossible, because “the longest journey begins with a single step” (Lao-Tzu).

Wasn’t that easy? Yes, it was so easy to spout off those overused clichés that we see over and over again along with countless others. My question is, have we earned the right to say these things? Have we even earned the right to even believe them? Do we know these to be true, essentially true, in the core of our beings? Have they become truth for us personally? Or do they just sound sweet and make us look smart?

I’m not being mean. Because these clichés mean something to me too. I just care whether or not we have integrated these into our selves or whether we have tacked them onto our selves like sticky notes.

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  • Pat68

    Excellent. To me, so many that get over-used, including some scriptures, amount to nothing more than “take two aspirin and call me in the morning”. A panacea for whatever ails you, regardless of what is needed. No forethought needed on the part of the advice-giver. In fact, sometimes I think the administration of these cliches can be a way to make ourselves feel better. We’ve done our part by doling out advice, now we can go on our merry way without having to get down in the muck and the mire with the person and feel their pain. I think we also do this because we don’t like discomfort and inconvenience and so we think the easy answer is it. But there’s another saying out there about the right answer being neat and easy and wrong. We really need to slow down in this life and learn to be present with people, realizing that not every problem can be solved with a cliche. Lest we forget, Paul had a thorn in the flesh that was not taken from him, yet we want all our problems and those around us to be solved almost instantaneously. We imbue these cliches with often much more power than they actually have for a given situation.

    Another reason we may use cliches is because we’re afraid to say, “I don’t know”. Some of our theologies have led us to believe we have to have all the answers, but there’s only One who has all the answers. Yet, to feel like we’re being good, dutiful Christians, we often fill the silence or speak into someone’s pain a well-intentioned cliche. But sometimes, all a person needs or wants is a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, not trite phrases meant to smooth over our their hurts.

    There can be times however, that the cliche may be just the words a person needs to hear, but in order for that to be the case, we need to be more thoughtful about the things we say and discern whether it’s the right word for the season that someone is in and whether it’s the right time to say it.

  • Andy

    Nice ‘un!