Can cliches defeat terrorism?

I did not blog or tweet yesterday in response to the Manchester bomb. I soon found everyone else saying everything I might have said. I felt all I had to offer was a string of cliches.

I was interested to hear the Prime Minister saying something similar to what I was thinking. I am now saying it in my own words, so apologies if I misinterpret her at all.

She said that whenever there is an incident like this, politicians all say the same things:

  1. Condemn and deplore the wickedness
  2. Sympathise with the victims and their families
  3. State that we will not be cowed or divided.

Then she said something important: that these things get repeated so often precisely because they are TRUE. They do not become less true just because they have been said before.

All I can do is to agree, for once, with the Prime Minister, one hundred percent. A thing becomes a cliche because it has often been found to be true or helpful. I remember reading a comment to this effect by Graham Greene. He said it was difficult for writers to find new ways of saying things that had often been said. Ordinary people, not writers, don’t worry. They come out with cliches all the time. He said that was especially true when we are responding to something which touches our emotions. We express joy or sadness, anger or love, in cliches.  And why not? I agree with Graham. If a thing is true, let it be said as often as it is needed.

Finally, let me remind you of an article I wrote in response to the last terrorist incident in Britain, the one outside Parliament. I think everything I said there is true again this time. http://geoffreymonmouth.co.uk/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=284&action=edit

The terrorists can’t win.

 

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