Sunday, September 24, 2006

He will burn his house to warm his hands

He will burn his house to warm his hands.

Very short term thinking might induce a lunatic to do this but how many times does the ordinary person do the equivalent through a lack of understanding?

How many politicians make it impossible for themselves to govern well by betraying their principles in order to win an election? How many men risk a good marriage in order to have a brief, unimportant fling? How many young men risk their lives in the pursuit of a passing thrill of daredevil excitement and end up dead or crippled?

This saying warns us of the folly of a short-sighted action that will gain a little advantage but cost greatly in the long run. We are being urged to show some forethought and judgement in our actions lest they cost us dear

Sunday, September 17, 2006

He that hath some land must have some labour.

He that hath some land must have some labour.

Most of us are descended from people who worked on the land a few generations ago. Some would have been farm owners and some labourers and they had to co-operate to produce the harvest so that everyone could eat. A small farm would be worked by a single family. After the industrial revolution vast numbers of people were forced off the land and had to find employment elsewhere.

A generalisation from land and labour leads us to the idea of capitalists and workers and how to generate income. Capital takes many forms: money, land, machinery, buildings and even mental capital i.e. a good education or skill. But the thing all of these have in common is that they need to be used.

This saying is reminding us of the need to put in the effort and use our assets to best advantage.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

When fortune smiles, take advantage

When fortune smiles, take advantage.

Have you ever fished a spot many times and some days you catch nothing others your first cast is rewarded, and you soon have as big a catch as you wished for?

Chance or good luck plays its part in human endeavours - when the time is right it is easy to succeed. As Shakespeare said, "Their is a tide in the affairs of man which taken at the flood leads on to fortune". Being in the right place at the right time is often the key to success.

However, a fisherman without the right tackle and some experience in using it plus the accumulated wisdom of years is unlikely to catch any supper - even if the conditions are fortuitously ideal.

So it is important to be prepared and wait for the right moments to come along - when fortune smiles, be ready.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A dead bee makes no honey.

A dead bee makes no honey.
Well, that is pretty obvious so just what is this saying trying to tell us? Bees are renowned for their industriousness, and people who work hard are often described as being "busy as a bee". Hard workers are generally praised, and very popular with their bosses, but is it an entirely good thing? Japanese people are regarded as some of the hardest-working people on the planet but in their vocabulary we find a word - Karoshi - meaning to work yourself to death. Dead workers, like dead bees, are not productive. So, perhaps this saying is telling us not to overdo things. "Moderation in all things", says another proverb and "A little goes a long way" is another. The conclusion would appear to be that work is good but should not be excessive - too much honey is probably bad for you anyway!

Bees are good in the garden