We all know at least one proverb that we’ve used in conversation…”two wrongs don’t make a right,” “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  We use proverbs to sometimes give advice or perhaps remind us of our values when making important decisions as we search for spiritual guidance.  Proverbs can help shape our own confident social identity as we might be surrounded by those without the best intentions.  Cultures around the world are defined by this type of wisdom literature.  You learn a lot about the values of a culture by analyzing their proverbs.  Here are a few intercultural proverbs regarding silence, the elderly, group solidarity, social harmony, and privacy:

“A wise man talks little; an ignorant one talks much.” (Thai)

“From the tree of silence hangs the fruit of tranquility.” (Peruvian)

“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.” (Chinese)

“A single bamboo pole does not make a raft.” (Chinese)

“One bird alone does not make a flock.” (Brazilian)

“He who holds the stirrup is as good as he who mounts the horse.” (Scottish)

“When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” (Ethiopian)

“Kick a stone in anger and harm your own foot.” (Korean)

“He who stirs another’s porridge often burns his own.” (Swedish)

Learning proverbs from other parts of the world may help us reduce our ethnocentrism and value our diverse society.  Practicing the philosophical advice can lead to more positive communication with others and a healthier mindset.  Click here for a list of proverbs from around the world.  A final proverb about the importance of education, “If you are planning for a year, sow rice: if you are planning for a decade, plant a tree; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” (Chinese).  Some people may argue that education is expensive…so is ignorance.

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