The Sickening Power of Cliches

From Chris Hedges article:

“Belief can triumph over knowledge. Emotion can vanquish thought. Our demagogues distort the Bible and the Constitution, while their demagogues distort the Quran, or any other foundational document deemed to be sacred, fueling self-exaltation and hatred at the expense of understanding. The more illiterate a society becomes, the more power those who speak in this corrupted form of speech amass, the more music and images replace words and thought.” (

I am concerned about the quality of discourse on TV, in movies and newspapers. Do reality TV shows or entertainment news or 24/7 news really help enhance the quality of our existence? Or does trash into brain equal trash out of brain?

Yet, I feel how powerful a cliche is. When I’m tired, I find myself watching an action flick where I know that there will be large explosions and the hero kills the bad guy then gets the girl. In watching the news, I find it comforting to curse the “greedy capitalists” or if you are a capitalist, complain about “those lazy socialists”. With images of middle-eastern terrorists filling the media and glamourous rich celebrities, I need only to feel good about my beliefs and not be bothered to think too much. A cliche is a formulaic thought, repeated so often that it lacks any real meaning.

Here’s a thought. The next time you (or I) spout or watch or think a cliche, think about what is the real meaning you are trying to create. What do these cliches mean anyway?

  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “You have to kill them before they kill you.”
  • “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • “I just want to feel happy.”

Any ones you’ve come across lately?

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