On the Importance of Proverbs

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Growing up my mom and I would always play games with words. We’d connect on trying to turn a phrase or make a pun out of an expression. She would also share from time to time different sayings that she had heard growing up.

In my work with younger folks I’ve found that these sayings seem to be less and less common for people, it’s a tragedy.

The proverbs or sayings that we’ve heard passed down from parents to children generation upon generation often represent wisdoms that have been understood by people through experience and over time. They are more than just reflections or witty quotes, they are civilizational treasures.

We often find these proverbs shared across diverse cultures and civilizations. This, to me, indicates that there are shared lessons about this life that we all live together that have been filtered out over the centuries. They are truths that we need today.

Another neat thing about them is that they bridge the gap between the generations. We may not be able to connect on technology, politics, culture, or many other things, but we can connect on truths that we all experience. In that way they are somewhat similar to good art or literature. They tap into something deeper about the human experience that we can all connect to.

In this series I will take proverbs that I’ve heard in either Arabic or English and then give their equivalent in the other language along with some commentary.

In a time when the world seems to be pulling in so many different directions and emphasizing our differences I hope that this series can be a means for us to realize how much we have in common.