The incredible idiom and the mighty metaphor!

Okay class (eh, electorate), whip out your pen, paper (and blood pressure monitor). Today we’re going to talk about the medicinal benefits of an idiom and a metaphor, both in the context of nerve-wracking reactions to recent mid- term elections. 

Here, allow me to set the stage.

You see, my patience had worn thin. I had a hard time waiting for the elections to end. If I could offer a one-word description of the deluge of negative ads, partisan finger pointing, outright lies, cowardice, election denials, etc., “disgust” would be that word.

But interestingly, where once my reaction was more likely than not to be one of disgust, these days it’s actually one of uncontrollable laughter. I guess you can say that I’ve evolved.  

Stay with me, please.

Which takes us first the word “idiom,” a particular idiom here – “to cut off your nose to spite your face” – meaning not do something out of spite that could end up causing more harm to oneself than to the person with whom he/she is angry. 

Now that takes us next to the word “metaphor,” a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not applicable. For the purpose of this narrative here’s a metaphor… “Laughter is the best medicine!” 

You see, in response to all the vitriol and shenanigans leading up to the recent elections, setting aside my disgust, my ability to roll over in side-splitting laughter – as in, “Oh my, can you believe what that clown just said?” was my saving grace.

Okay, I confess to having been entertained by much of the hilarity, the buffoonery, the stunts and the clown shows. But inarguably, there are frequent faces in the news – no need to cite them here – that evoke laughter even before they open their mouths and let loose the bull. Where once these clowns made me cuss, nowadays they make me cackle. They’re the ones who provide fodder for late night TV hosts, cartoonists and satirists. They’re ready-made for side-splitting caricature.

Look, like everyone I longed for preferred outcomes in both local and national elections but decided to prepare myself mentally for whatever the outcome. So as what’s been my usual response to eminent uncertainty and probable disappointment, I retreated to history – for me, literary history – for solace and prophetic insights that could soften the impact of my anticipated “post-election blues.”.

So I turned off the news, ignored the polls and spent an afternoon retrieving words of wisdom from James Baldwin, William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others for words of wisdom. But somehow I landed on quotes by Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. Others aside, I needed comedic relief and insights and  Oscar Wilde was the right person at the right time.

Now as you scroll down this list of his quotes, associate the names of politicians (or someone else you know) with the quote. Feel free to nod and chuckle, guffaw if you need to, or let loose a litany of “amens” as you go down the list. Here goes:

“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It will forgive everything except genius.”

“Some people cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go!” 

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame.”

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.”

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

“There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything and people who know absolutely nothing.”

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

“True friends will stab you in the front.”

“I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.”

Okay now class (or electorate), let’s do a quick health check after you have laughed at a few of these quotes. 

Can you honestly say that you experienced a good laugh? If no, I extend my thoughts and prayers. If yes, guess what? Your overall heath may have improved. Here’s why:

Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good feeling.

Laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. Over the long term, laughter can improve your immune system, ease pain, increase personal satisfaction and sharply improve your mood. 

Now here’s the kicker – A hearty laugh can help you gain new friends and ward off themalcontents, the purveyors of negativism, the gloom and doom crowd, the people who, wrote Oscar Wilde, “cause happiness whenever they go!” 

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is also a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel,, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award and 3rd place winner of the 2022 Georgia Press Award


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