One of my pet hates is when people use the term 110%
“Joe Bloggs gave 110%!”
Yeah, whatever! If Joe Bloggs gave 110% this time around, then obviously he’s never given 100% any other time, right? After all, it’s impossible to give more than 100%, no matter how impressive the act.
In reality, every other time Joe Bloggs did his work he never put in his full effort. He only ever gave 80% or maybe 90%. But never 100%. At least until now… and who knows, even now, perhaps he still didn’t really give 100%. He just impressed us, that’s all.
I can recall quite clearly back when I was 16 years old. Even back then, I loved to write and I wrote this really crap 100 page story (well I really liked it at the time, but now I think it’s utter shit – yes I still have it). At school one of our English assignments was to do 6 hours worth of creative writing. One night I pulled out my 100 page story and spent a couple of hours condensing it down to about 20 pages and handed it in as my assignment. It came back later with the teacher raving about it, saying “You must have put a lot of effort into this. I really enjoyed reading it.” I snickered to myself, “Oh yeah, I put a huge amount of effort into that particular assignment”. Did he think I gave 110%? (probably not, because I never heard that lame-ass term used much back then in the 80s) Maybe. 100%? Most likely. But really I think I gave about 20%.
This just goes to show you how much some terms and words have been dumbed down so much in society today. It also shows that what is impressive is often in the eye of the beholder, nothing more. The same applies to many words including one word we hear bandied about a lot, particularly by religious folk.
The word, “miracle”
How often is this word used to explain some kind of extra-ordinary event?
“It was a miracle I wasn’t killed”
“I prayed and God healed me of my cold. A miracle!”
“The world around us shows the miraculous hand of God!”
Or as one very deluded fundamentalist Christian said to me once, “Waking up every morning is a miracle.”
Yeeeeeah, riiiiiiiight. The fact is, if it's a common occurrence, it’s not a miracle. If it has a possible natural explanation, it's not a miracle. If you got lucky and didn’t get yourself killed, that is not a miracle. If your cold suddenly got better, that’s not necessarily a miracle either. Ever heard of antibodies? The world around us, a miracle? No, you are just ignorant of the way the universe works, that’s all.
That’s the thing isn’t it? Ignorance. Often what amazes us - things that we can’t see an explanation for, we brand as supernatural… or miraculous. We see examples of this with primitive cultures. Simple devices we use every day were considered magical by African tribes. These white men had magical powers! It's only human nature to marvel at things that we don't understand and then judge them to be supernatural in some way. The writers of the bible did it all the time and since then Science has explained a lot of stuff. The fact is, as we become more educated, what is classed as a miracle becomes less and less. We even know now that when Cancer goes into remission (a common so-called miracle) it has natural causes, even though people still like to insist that God cured them.
Quite clearly, the word “miracle” has become just another version of the term “110%”. As such when someone claims “miracle”, we can comfortably scoff and say, “Yeah, whatever, mate”.