Bad Apple Proverbs: There’s One In Every Bunch ~ NPR

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Proverbs are like other traditions — they owe their longevity to how easy it is to reinterpret what they mean. Take “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” It clearly suggests some traditional wisdom about travel, but what? The Scots think it means “moving around keeps you fresh and free.” The English use it to mean “moving around keeps you poor and rootless” — and Americans use it both ways and some others. Take it one way or the other, it can’t help being wise.

Or take the one about “a few bad apples,” the reflexive defense whenever misconduct surfaces in the midst of some organization, from Enron to Abu Ghraib to Haditha to the mortgage meltdown. It’s an ancient bit of counsel, whether it’s said of bad apples or rotten ones, or of bushels, barrels, baskets or bins. Benjamin Franklin had it as “the rotten apple spoils his companion,” which goes back to Shakespeare’s time.

~~~ MAS FROM NPR ~~~

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