Glenn Morison's Blog (46)

If you can't beat them, join them

Although these words are commonly spoken in political contexts, they are hard to apply in some settings. You can't really put on the other team's uniform during halftime at a football game. A superstar athlete can, however, forgo the best contract available to sign for less money with the team he thinks can win a championship. This idea of joining the opposition can describe…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 4th mo. 13, 2017 at 9:12am — 2 Comments

No man is an island

John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and several steps in my Sickness contains both the phrases “no man is an illand” and “for whom the bell tolls.” The 1623 spelling may be unfamiliar to many. Unlike many of the quotations I chose for this book, where true origins are unknown or debatable, there is universal agreement that this is Donne's image.…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 4th mo. 9, 2017 at 11:00am — 7 Comments

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

Often this phrase refers to a person in a group or team and this meaning was reinforced with the popular TV show, The Weakest Link that had tremendous, albeit brief, popularity in 2001.  The aphorism originated in the 19th century. It referred to the links in an argument, suggesting that even the strongest of logical propositions lose their validity based on their…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 4th mo. 7, 2017 at 11:13am — 3 Comments

Don’t go it alone

As advice for climbing a tall and wobbly ladder, this aphorism speaks of the value of partnerships and mutual support. Extended, it could be taken as proclaiming the value of communal collectives such as food-purchasing clubs or cooperative housing. Note the use of the word “don’t” which implies we actually have the choice to “go it alone” - a suggestion some would counter…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 4th mo. 4, 2017 at 11:39am — 3 Comments

Too many cooks spoil the broth

These words could be read as the opposite of “it takes a village [to raise a child]” or “many hands make light work,” and is also akin to the anachronistic “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” Rather than argue for universality of any one stance, suffice to say that some situations call for teamwork, and others for the concentration and oversight of only one, or maybe a…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 4th mo. 2, 2017 at 3:42pm — No Comments

To each according to need; from each according to ability

Although forever connected with Karl Marx, these words were commonly used in socialist movements before he wrote them in 1875. It is a challenge to describe an entire socio-economic system in ten words. Our economy seems to be based on "to and from each according to wealth." Anyone I’ve ever talked to who’s traveled to Cuba comes back to say their cab driver or their beach…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 3rd mo. 31, 2017 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

One bad apple spoils the barrel

For the record, this is true. Rotting fruit produces ethylene which can speed the ripening process in other fruits. English preacher and writer, John Northebrooke put these words to paper in 1577 but credits Chrysostom, a 4th century theologian. Rarely are people talking about apples. It is bad people, so the quote implies, that have a negative influence on others.…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 3rd mo. 29, 2017 at 11:12am — 2 Comments

Community and Cooperation

Although conflict is not foreign to Quaker meetings, there are many reminders within Quaker  life to live with respect in community.  Quakers are “cautioned against any harshness of tone or manner when administering counsel or reproof.”[i]

This advice is not limited to simple congeniality.  True cooperation requires true engagement.  Quakers are to…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 3rd mo. 29, 2017 at 11:08am — No Comments

It is time to fish or cut bait

This obscure phrase plays itself out in The Trial of Impeachment of Levi Hubbell, Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. The trial was held in the Wisconsin Senate in June of 1853. The proceedings allow you to read the debate about the meaning of it being time to fish or cut bait which was, at that time, an unfamiliar phrase. In that context, the somewhat archaic term…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 25, 2017 at 10:33am — No Comments

If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will come to the mountain

Although attributed to Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, by Francis Bacon in a brief essay entitled On Boldness in 1625; the actual phrase can’t be traced directly to Mohammed. Bacon suggests that Mohammed said these words after being unsuccessful in performing the miracle of beckoning a hill to come to him, showed wisdom with these words rather than admitting…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 23, 2017 at 10:42am — 2 Comments

Lead, follow or get out of the way



My father used to use a slightly enlarged version of this phrase. It is commonly attributed to General Patton and when done so. it often begins, “We herd sheep, we drive cattle, [and] we lead people.” Patton’s words also come with more personal wording, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” While I have no particular reason to doubt its authenticity, I do wonder…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 20, 2017 at 11:30am — 7 Comments

Decisions aren't forever

This is another slogan that has some traction in the Twelve Step community. On the surface, it appears to encourage people to be open to changing their minds. As information and circumstances change, so ought decisions. Put in a positive light, this quote says, “keep an open mind.” It also echoes the wisdom of living “one day at a time.” It is a reminder that any…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 16, 2017 at 11:21am — 2 Comments

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

President Harry Truman, who attributed it to his friend General Harry Vaughn, popularized this phrase. It is not limited to cooking, but rather a metaphor for any situation that creates challenge or “heat.” If you are not ready to take on a challenge, there is no sense pretending. Truman intended these words for his staff: if they were not up to the task, they had…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 8, 2017 at 1:01pm — 3 Comments

Between a rock and a hard place



There is no real advice in this phrase. However, the fact that it is used to describe a situation that is very difficult with no apparent solution, implies that it is a reality that all situations have to be reckoned with and therefore, when you are “between a rock and a hard place”, it is better to be honest than in denial of your circumstances. The most literal use of…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 6, 2017 at 9:55am — No Comments

We have a choice

One of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “being proactive.” Another way to put this is to choose rather than accept. So often we say, “I have no choice”, when we actually do have options. We may not like the choices and their foreseen results but there are choices. You have a boss you can't stand? You can choose to quit your job! You…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 4, 2017 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

Choose the lesser of two evils

Cicero, Aristotle, Plutarch and Chaucer and others all said words to this effect. A humorous gloss comes from the movie Klondike Annie where Mae West says when given the choice of two evils, “I'll choose the one I never tried before.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22

Avoid every kind of evil.

abstain from every form of…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 2, 2017 at 10:19am — 6 Comments

Choice

Simplicity is one of the traditional Quaker Testimonies.  Quakers recognize that “a simple lifestyle is [a] freely chosen . . . source of strength.”[i]  The assertion of freedom to choose is central in Quaker perspectives. For example, Quakers are encouraged to “not be persuaded into buying what you cannot afford” and to “keep informed” as important…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 1st mo. 31, 2017 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Actions speak louder than words

Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain and many others get credit for these words. As the idea has been around since pre-biblical Greek society, it is no wonder many people have said it, or something like it. The opposite seems ludicrous: Our words are more important and honest than our actions and choices. “Deeds are fruits but words are leaves” expresses the same idea with more…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 1st mo. 30, 2017 at 6:18pm — No Comments

It’s never too late to learn

Originally recorded in the 1600s, this proverb has its exact opposite in the phrase, “you can't teach old dogs new tricks.” Both sayings are used more to justify a choice - trying to learn something new or giving it up - rather than to inform a choice with intelligence. Sometimes it is…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 1st mo. 30, 2017 at 11:33am — No Comments

Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

I am unaware of anyone completing and publishing a project quite like this one. But I did stumble across an Amazon ad for the best seller, Until Today. I was humbled! The book is described as “365 daily devotionals that support the time-honoured adage, ‘Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?’” I was inspired! If Iyanla Vanzant can write 365…

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Added by Glenn Morison on 1st mo. 28, 2017 at 1:30pm — 6 Comments

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