The fastening of papers has been referenced to as early as the 13th
century. During that time, a person would put ribbons through parallel
incisions in the upper left hand corner of the pages. Later people started to
wax the ribbons to make them stronger and easier to undo and redo. This was the
way papers were clipped together for the next six hundred years. In 1835, a New
York physician named John Ireland Howe invented a machine for mass producing
straight pins. Straight pins then became a popular way to fasten papers
together, although they were not originally designed for that purpose. Finally,
Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian inventor with a degree in electronics, science and
mathematics, invented the paperclip in 1899. He received a patent for his design
from Germany since Norway had no patent laws at the time. Johan Vaaler was an
employee at a local invention office when he invented the paperclip. He received
an American patent in 1901. Johan Vaaler was the first person to patent a
paperclip design, although other unpatented designs might have existed
In the hit 1985 tv series "MacGyver," Richard Dean Anderson portraits a
secret agent armed with infinite resourcefulness. In one of the episodes he
said, "A paperclip can be a wonderous thing. More times than I can remember,
one of these has gotten me out of a tight spot." That is how I feel about
proverbs from around the world--in many ways it can be the wisdom that gets you
out of a "tight spot". You can't think of a country or culture that does not
have some proverbial saying that has held things together for its people.
Wisdom can be found in every land and in every language. Here are the ABC's of
paperclip wisdom from 26 countries/culture around the globe.
A is for Afghanistan--"It's the same donkey, but with a new saddle."
B is for Brazil--"Dirty clothes should be washed at home." "A roupa suja
lava-se em casa."
C is for China--"He that is afraid to shake the dice will never throw a six."
Thank you Mark Hawkins!
D is for Denmark--"He who builds according to every man's advice will have a
E is for Egypt--"A beautiful thing is never perfect."
F is for France--"Ill gotten, ill spent." "Bien mal acquis ne profite
G is for Germany--"Too many cooks spoil the both(porridge)." "Viele Köche
verderben den Brei."
H is for Haiti--"The pencil of God has no eraser."
I is for Italy--"A close mouth catches no flies and to him who watches,
everything will be revealed."
J is for the Jewish culture--"If God lived on Earth, people would break his
K is for Kenya--"A donkey always says thank you with a kick and a hyena
cannot smell its own stench."
L is for the Latin culture--"A boar is often held by quite a small dog."
M is for Malaysia--"A fool is like the big drum that beats fast but does not
realize its hollowness."
N is for Nigeria--"The death that will kill a man begins as an appetite."
O is for Oman--"Trust God, but tie up your camel."
P is for Phillippines--"If you make a habit of buying things you don't need,
you will soon be selling things you do need."
Q is for quintessential native American--"Do not judge your neighbor until
you walk two moons in his moccasins."
R is for Romania--"Every sin brings its punishment with it."
S is for Sweden--"God gives every bird his worm, but he does not throw it
into the nest."
T is for Turkey--"Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet
U is for the United States--"Nobody has ever bet enough on a winning
V is for Vietnam--"If there is one fish in the pond and ten hungry men on the
bank--that fish is more valuable than gold."
W is for the Welsh culture--"A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a
learned fool the taste of wisdom."
X is for Generation X--"If it ain't microwavable I don't want it."
Y is for the Yiddish culture--"If a link is broken, the entire chain
Z is for Zimbabwe--"A coward has no scars."
It took 600 years for the paperclip to be invented, even though it was
needed way before that time. I sometimes wonder how long is it going to take
for us to realize we need one another. We need the paperclip wisdom that comes
from our brothers and sisters around the world. But we also need the paperclip
wisdom from our family, friends and neighbors. In a story I found by an
anonynous writer--the main character Georgia reminds us that so much can be done
with just one paperclip.
One day, Georgia received a letter from a soldier that was depressed and
discouraged. She pondered as to how she could help lift his spirits. It was then
that she noticed that at work there were paper clips of various colors. Georgia
took one of the yellow paper clips and photo copied it in the palm of her hand.
She sent this picture with the paper clip with the following message: "This
yellow paper clip that you see in my hand represents a hug that I am sending to
you. You can carry this paper clip in a pocket or anywhere, and whenever you
feel down, you can just touch and hold it and know that somebody cares about
you, and would give you a hug if she were there." Georgia sent a copy of this
picture along with a paper clip and the message to each of her other
correspondents. After the war ended, Georgia received one of the pictures of her
hand holding the yellow paper clip, and on the back were over 150 signatures of
people that had been given her "hug."
Why not embrace someone today with sagacity. The book of Proverbs talks
about how lady Wisdom goes out in the streets and shouts. She is trying to get
our attention--she's at the town center, in the middle of traffic, on the job,
in the house, at the school--she is wherever we find ourselves. This is Tuesday
Talk--I hope you heard me.
© 2011 Theda Okona All Rights Reserved