Monday, December 7, 2009

Mantras dull our minds (2) – Thomas Sowell

As I explained a few weeks ago, mantras are enemies of clear writing. They dull our minds and the minds of our readers. I cited an article in which Thomas Sowell lamented the use of the "mindless mantra" making a difference.

In that same article, Dr. Sowell also lamented the use of giving back:

“ ‘Giving back’ is a similarly mindless mantra.

“I have donated money, books and blood for people I have never seen and to whom I owe nothing. Nor is that unusual among Americans, who do more of this than anyone else.

“But we are not ‘giving back’ anything to those people because we never took anything from them in the first place.

“If we are giving back to society at large, in exchange for all that society has made possible for us, then that is a very different ballgame.

“Giving back in that sense means acknowledging an obligation to those who went before us and for the institutions and values that enable us to prosper today.

“But there is very little of this spirit of gratitude and loyalty in many of those who urge us to ‘give back.’

“Indeed, many who repeat the ‘giving back’ mantra would sneer at any such notion as patriotism or any idea that the institutions and values of American society have accomplished worthy things and deserve their support, instead of their undermining.”

The Takeaway: Think. Don’t mindlessly imitate people who use a lot of mantras. These people are dull and lazy. You are a professional writer. You are, and should be, perceptive and diligent.

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