Blood is thicker than water, or so they say. What they mean is that your family relationships --or blood relationships--are more important than your friendships. It's usually said in those cases where you are being encouraged to choose to favor your family's interests instead of your friends or other partnerships. Seems about right. And I'm all about family.
Except I'm also all about accuracy. The original phrasing of this saying was a bit different and if we are going to keep saying it, we should say it right.
I've seen this mentioned in a couple random places lately and I thought I'd bring it some attention. For instance, Cracked.com had a humorous list of other misused proverbs, including...
- "Carpe Diem"
- "Curiosity Killed the Cat"
- "Blood Is Thicker Than Water"
- "Charity Begins at Home"
- "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss"
They have explanations for each one, but let's stick with the blood and water one for now. So it turns out that the ancient wisdom is not really that your family is always more important than your friends, but it could be the exact opposite. Your family is not always your primary bond. Sometimes the warriors you fight (and bleed) alongside with are closer to you than the family that you were born into. Sometimes the friends you choose are "thicker" with you than the parents that you did not choose.
Now that we know which one is historically accurate --and makes more sense in context... I mean, how do your close friends equate to water?-- which one is the correct advice? Which version of the age old wisdom is correct?
Well, I believe in accuracy. And I believe that the best truths are the oldest truths, basic principles that stand the test of time. However, I'd shy away from any inclination that the choice is strictly binary. You don't have to choose between your loyalty to your friends or your loyalty to your family. You can and should have both in your life. But when conflicts arise as they sometimes do, you should choose between the merits of your friends versus the merits of your family members based on the correct reasons. And choosing your family's side simply because they are your family is not always laudable. In the end, choose what is best for you; morally, ethically, and so on. Support your family if you can, but don't do it ONLY because they are family. Don't break your own principles for the sake of family. At least, that's one concept to take away from the discussion. Food for thought.
And by the way, the word "relative" in the title of this post is indeed an intentional pun. You are welcome. Update: There's also this old Hawaiian wisdom...