There used to be commonly-known sayings. There used to be an awful lot of them. Somewhere along the line they have dropped out of use and the world has become a greyer place for their loss.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.
When we were small we would shout that at anyone who called us names. Being called names didn't matter to us as children. At least, we would never let the name-caller see that their words had any effect. Offence is never given. It cannot be given. It can only be taken. I cannot offend you with words unless you decide to take offence. You cannot offend me unless I accept the offense. If I call you names and you brush them aside, then my insult is powerless. If you take offense, my insult has hurt you and I have won. See how it works?
If you know me, if you know my past in detail, you might be able to find something to say that would cut me deeply. You might want to use that to upset me. Your words can only affect me if I let them. If I show no reaction, you have lost. Sticks and stones...
Now, of course, there's profit in being offended. You can make the insulter pay, but you can only do that by taking offense. Forget the sticks and stones - one word out of place can now damage your wealth and even cost you your freedom. In order to make this work, people have become feeble. They are looking for offense. They can no longer hold their head up and shrug off a word or two. They call the police and say 'Please sir, he called me a bad name'.
At school, we had a word for people like that.
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Remember that one? The Dreadful Arnott and her like don't remember it. To them, it is perfectly fine to tell you lies about five-a-day, to make up alcohol limits and demand you stick to them, to tell you you must believe the world is warming even though this week is the chilliest June week I've experienced for some years, and to pretend that smoking harms others when all the data shows that it doesn't.
They don't like the same methods used on them. They will howl and stamp their feet if we use the same data to claim that smoking doesn't do any of the things it's claimed to do. Well, Righteous, I for one plan to use exactly your methods against you. If you don't like me doing it, the only way to stop me is to stop using those methods yourself. You can't. It's all you have.
My personal favourite, one that might not be so commonly known:
Fine words butter no parsnips.
I imagine Labour deliberately silenced that one. It means that no matter how eloquently you present a case, if you don't actually do what you say then your words are pointless. Labour have demonstrated that manifesto promises can be out-and-out lies and there is nothing we can do about it. A court case has set the precedent for all parties. Not one of the promises made to us during an election need be honoured. Not one. Politicians can lie as brazenly as they like on their campaign literature and we have no redress. A referendum on Europe? Sure, we'll promise that. A partial smoking ban? Sure, we'll promise that. Anything you want, just ask and we will promise it.
There are many more, but it's late and I can't recall them now. What seems odd is that it's not just some of those old sayings that have vanished. All of them have dropped out of use, all at once. Almost as if the collected wisdom of those simple sayings was deliberately destroyed. I don't recall when it happened. Was it gradual, or was it done by decree? If we had seen it happening we might have been able to stop it. If you can fix something in the early stages of breaking, it saves you a much bigger fixing job later. But then, that saying:
A stitch in time saves nine
would have been an awfully inconvenient one to have hanging around the Brown Gorgon's government.
Anyone remember any more?