July 28, 2017
by Doug “Uncola” Lynn:
I like to collect thoughts. For me, it’s no different than someone who collects baseball cards, or antiques, or classic cars, or books, or coins. In all of these examples, the collector finds value in the collected. The value may be manifested as monetary worth, private enjoyment, personal or professional significance, of educational benefit, or, of course, in many other ways. Very often the thoughts collected in me noggin are delivered in the form of clichés. For many people, especially writers, the fact that a saying has been handed down through many generations, or shared by millions of others, tends to detract from its overall value; or, at the very least, is considered as somehow “less than” the same concept formulated into original wording or revealed in an otherwise novel manner.
But why? Doesn’t the very fact that a saying has stood the test of time, so to speak, prove it to be of more value than, say, other untested premises? Yet this is very often not the case. It seems the standard cliché is commonly viewed in an unfavorable light; and even assigned various names with negative connotations hidden within, like: banality, bromide, platitude, proaism, et al. Maybe people dislike cliché’s because they feel these lead to lazy thinking. Or perhaps many folks consider what is “common” to be of less value. Or, maybe they believe what is old, is simply worn out.
Yet, it is they who are being lazy.
Is the glass half empty? Or half full?
Think about that for a second. You’ve most likely heard this cliché hundreds of times in your life. But have you ever really meditated on what it really means; on how it might apply to you; or why this common expression has entered into the Phraseology Hall of Fame within the vast lexicon of Mankind?
Is the glass half empty? Or half full?
Seriously, a non-judgmental, and non-lazy, writer could type an entire volume of books on these very questions; even applying them to numerous perspectives and worldviews of diverse individuals and societies alike. This timeworn adage could, in fact, be scientifically studied to determine the effects of attitude on motivation; the yins and yangs of pessimism versus optimism; failure as opposed to success; even life and death.
And, what of the philosophical implications regarding the relevance of truth on perspectives? Or the consequences of choice and action? In other words, when considering the proverbial glass as either half empty, or half full, does truth even matter? Is it not true that both perspectives are factual; that the glass is half full and half empty, simultaneously? And, if this is the case, does it not mean that all perspectives are “relative” and in the eyes of the beholder? Or, is there a universal dividing line in the glass to define its volume; truth versus falsehood, light against dark?
These are the questions I ask myself from time to time; and, I keep coming back to this conclusion:
Our perspective determines our reality.
What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.
Today, America stands at a crossroads. We are a nation ideologically divided; a country in the throes of divorce.
There are those who look at America as the home of gluttonous capitalists and merciless imperialists; pillagers of the less fortunate societies throughout the world. These people long for social justice, economic socialism, and the establishment of a world state to administer harmony and equality. They dream of “one world” without borders, or war.
What could go wrong?
On the other side, there are those who embrace the healthy separation of cultures and endorse national pride, free markets, and fair international trade. This group views America as an economic engine of the world and understands how only capitalism and moral law can lift all nations from poverty; thus allowing for individuals and families alike to prosper in free lands.
Obviously, these groups have different values and share no desire to compromise.
Again, what could go wrong?
Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election, America would no doubt be on the fast track for universal single-payer healthcare, stricter gun laws, expanded climate change initiatives, and increased illegal immigration. Conversely, President Donald Trump has delivered a conservative judge to the United States Supreme Court, decreased illegal immigration by almost 70%, and has implemented over 150 presidential actions all designed to make America great again, including: regulatory reform, a federal employee hiring freeze, decreased funding for sanctuary cities, construction of a border wall, and removing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Accord, just to name a few.
Moreover, since the election of Trump, the illegal and corrupt collusion between the corporate mainstream media and the neoconic deep state military industrial complex has been fully exposed for all those willing to see. Indeed, the fake news Russian election hacking narrative has completely removed the veil from the nefariously unscrupulous establishment power-brokers and their minions. Even if they are successful and Trump is one day removed from office, or is proven to have been a pawn all along, there is no going back. The damage has been done. The hidden powers have been unmasked.
At the same time, Trump, like his presidential predecessors, bombed a middle eastern nation under phony pretense; geopolitical tensions have increased with Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran; the Federal Reserve-induced economic bubbles are about to burst around the world; Obamacare remains the law of the land; and chicks with dicks, plus boys with tits, are now banned from fighting in the United States military.
Is the glass half full or half empty? It depends upon where you look.
3 thoughts on “Cliché Series # 1: The Proverbial Volume in the Glass”
“At the same time, Trump, like his presidential predecessors, bombed a middle eastern nation under phony pretense; geopolitical tensions have increased with Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran; the Federal Reserve-induced economic bubbles are about to burst around the world; Obamacare remains the law of the land; and chicks with dicks, plus boys with tits, are now banned from fighting in the United States military.
“Is the glass half full or half empty? It depends upon where you look.”
Good sir, You saved the best for last.
Another cliche, yes? -)
As hypocrisy is the glue that binds both societies and psyches together, the only solvent is truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Maybe. But even if so, yet who knows all of the truth except a kind of not always kind God or “God”?
In any case, Prof, speaking as a political as well as religious Omnist, I much applaud your uncommon common sense perspective. Bravo!!!
As always, Uncola, a gentle, thought-provoking excursion into realms both hackneyed (!) (you missed that synonym, I believe!) and unresolved, perchance irresolvable.
Reminds me of a time I sat with the group of scientists at a round, intimate dinner table at a rural retreat just outside Baltimore, MD, the occasion a “workshop” by invitation only, the participants august types, putatively “shakers and movers” in the field of interest. The conversation veered off into metaphysics, the word Zen got uttered, and a delightful soul, the chief editor of a preeminent peer-reviewed journal in that field, asked those of us seated at the table, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
At this point, full disclosure, I have to interject that my presence as a (then) very junior member of this loosely defined fraternity concerned synthesizing and reporting the group’s discussion, findings, and conclusions.
Of course, each and all at the table, without exception, had heard that very question posed before: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” I have no doubt that each of us darted off into Mind, searching for our “best answer”. In the meantime, the questioner, who gave an impish, almost oriental smile, began to flap four fingers of his right hand against the palm, creating the unmistakable sound of a single hand clapping.
At the very end, you asked, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” Your answer: “It depends upon where you look.” If you have not already, you might take some time to read the work of Alan Watts, a scholar, a teacher, one who conveyed “Zen” to our culture very effectively. Over time, over years of scholarship and meditation, Alan Watts mastered the puzzles to which either-or gives rise, so-termed dichotomies, the illusion of apparent opposites (e.g., black-white), along with their lies. Thus, one effective response to either-or questions — such as you ask here, “Is the glass half full or half empty”? — is BOTH-AND!
Thank you for providing this forum for thoughtful play!
@ GreenT & Alan,
Thank you for the great, thought-provoking, comments. Good stuff