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“Fridge Magnet Faith’

Good Morning. A small child looked me in the eye the other day, after I’d been sharing some grown up wisdom for life.
‘That is so cheesy,’ he said, ‘I can taste it in my mouth.’

Not bad for someone of such tender years – almost good enough for a fridge magnet.

I looked the phrase up, expecting to find it recycled from Abraham Lincoln – or Homer… Simpson. Who knows ?

As Abraham Lincoln himself once put it, ‘The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they’re genuine.’

Some days the online world is a virtual fridge door – festooned with magnetic aphorisms offering comedy or comfort, profundity or platitude.

Some promise inspiration: ‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.’
That was everywhere when Maya Angelou died a few days ago.

Others offer a comic twist: ‘How many roads must a man go down before he admits he’s lost?’

Some pick-you-up on a day when you’re down: ‘Be kind – for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.’
Many sound good… but are soundly untrue. ‘If you believe it, you can achieve it’.

From obscure quotes of the famous to famous quotes of the obscure, these engaging epigrams may be Churchillian
– or Wittgensteinian
– or maybe just … Morecambe-and-Wiseian –

but they are aphorisms that many use to navigate life by.

In an Information Age, always bugging us with its
attention-seeking demands, we find less space to wrestle with big ideas and turn instead to shrink-wrapped miniature maxims.

Perhaps these are the new scriptures in an age which thinks it’s post religious.

As with most scriptures, veracity can be uncertain. ‘You make a living by what you get’ said Churchill, ‘You make a life by what you give.’
It has a ring of truth – but no record of Churchill ever saying it.

And for all their sudden ubiquity, they’re not as modern as they appear. The Bible holds an entire collection, a Book of Proverbs, in a genre known as wisdom literature. Some resonate now as much as they did 2500 years ago.

‘Better a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.’

‘As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens the character of another.’

The most resonant hint poetically at the shape of a rewarding life, rather than list things to believe. ‘Can you scoop fire into your lap without your clothes being burned?’

The thinnest offerings of fridge magnet faith are only jumble sale religion, pound shop philosophy.

But the richest seams, ancient and modern, help us become, as Gandhi says – on a million fridge doors – ‘the change we wish to see in the world.’

A word of warning though, from the original collection: ‘Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.’