Saturday 9 March 2024

It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice

"It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice". This is a Chinese saying (proverb) in which the person saying it isn't concerned about the person making decisions and their behaviour or skin colour or background et cetera but what decisions they make and whether they are pragmatic and workable or not. 

In traditional Chinese (as per Google Translate): 不管黑貓白貓,抓到老鼠就行.

The colour of the cat represents the different parties and people with different opinions. But these are less important than achieving the objective in anyway possible.

It's a phrase which advocates pragmatism. And pragmatism means making things work no matter how, without being overly concerned with how you do it, how you achieve it or even being overly concerned with ethics and morality. Sometimes even criminality might be thrown away in order to meet the objective, pragmatically, which is desired.


The reason why I have picked up on that saying is because apparently, in Zimbabwe, the colour of the cat matters! This appears to mean that the person or the group or the party making the decisions matters more than it should and it is probably getting in the way of achieving a result.

House of Cards

I am currently watching the Netflix series House of Cards which is about the politics surrounding the president of the United States. And if the depiction is true, there's a lot of pragmatism in those politics. You get the job done no matter how you achieve it. In the series there's even murder. In fact, the president murders two people! That is the ultimate form of pragmatism.

Below is what my artificial intelligence assistant, Mr Poe, says about the proverb

The proverb "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice" is a saying that originated in China and was popularized by Deng Xiaoping, a Chinese politician. It is often used to convey the idea that the outcome or result is more important than the specific method or means used to achieve it.

In its original context, this proverb was used to emphasize the importance of practical results over ideological purity. Deng Xiaoping used this saying to advocate for economic reforms in China, suggesting that it didn't matter whether those reforms were in line with strict communist ideology as long as they yielded positive economic outcomes.

By using the metaphor of a cat catching mice, the proverb implies that the primary concern should be the effectiveness of the action rather than the superficial characteristics or appearance. The colour of the cat (black or white) represents the different approaches or ideologies, while the act of catching mice symbolizes achieving the desired goal.

In a broader sense, this proverb can be interpreted to mean that it is more important to focus on the practical aspects and results of a task or action rather than getting caught up in theoretical debates or superficial distinctions. It encourages people to prioritize effectiveness and pragmatism over rigid adherence to specific ideologies or methods.


I did not know what Mr Poe would say so my words come from my mind and I've not copied from this AI program's answer.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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