“It’s all good.”
Please don’t respond to me with those flaccid few words. They’re limp and wretchedly without hope.
It’s a phrase not even worthy of being called insidious. Insidiousness implies some cunning or shrewd planning has taken place. This phrase is void of any such strategy. It’s an effortless slide away from response-ability.
It’s like serving a bland pasta dish with no seasoning, no delicious sauce. It’s only effect is to turn one away.
“It’s all good”. It’ll likely be followed by a recanting of a schedule of dire busyness.
Okay…so you get it. I don’t use “It’s all good”. But I’m not innocent. Sufi teachings gave me observation skills. I check my feelings and actions while I’m with others. I catch myself lapsing into bouts of self-imposed busyness. I need reminders that I set up the schedule and can change it. I don’t want to be serving friends bland, cold, sticky pasta.
Today, while tossing this about, Reverend Victoria Stafford came to my attention. She popped my senses like an exquisite dish of finely seasoned pasta smothered in a perfect sauce. She shared concepts that prove she understands. She decried insipid phrases in a most expressive manner. She helped me reconsider my mission. She reminded me to respond – to work at finding good words to express my wanting to be a gourmet friend:
“Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope – not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right.” But a different, sometimes lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.” – Victoria Stafford from her book, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times/
Now may I grow into her eloquence.
P.S. – A reader offered a link to the New Yorker magazine on the same subject. Click here: “It’s All Good”. Thank you, SuziCate whose blog is The Water Witch’s Daughter.
Hi Amy, ‘It’s All Good’ is a phrase of no hope for those who don’t want to explore further. To me, it seems a good one! It actually brings along the anticipation, the possibilities and the expectations. We may not be in good health but we have to say this phrase to get well, to raise our will power, to feel good for a short while and continue the journey of life with positive energy. So it is prudent to park ourselves at the gates of hope, as the quote so eloquently avers and grow!
When we say ‘All Is Good’, we become good deep within.
Hi, Balroop – I see your comment is from the point of view of self-talk. You make a good point and if those words bring the depth desired, sobeit. The focus in this post was on the phrase being used in response to someone in need of a friend’s time or attention. (Perhaps that was too obscure.) Simply out of interest, to receive positive energy like good health, courage, clarity, love, etc, my teacher encourages, especially in meditation, the “I am” or “I have” statements.
Hmm…I don’t think of the phrase as ‘insidious’…I think of it as a statement of being resilient…as presented in the children’s story about Pete the Cat…which where I first heard it…like anything else it can be overused and abused.
So…is this where the phrase came from?! 2009 was about the time it began popping up in my world. Used in this context with its deeper meaning, it actually holds purpose. If only, Charlie, those hearts left feeling “dropped” had heard or read about Pete the Cat’s white shoes.👟 👟 👟 👟
I learned the phrase “It’s all good…” many, many years ago when I was teaching foster youth and other at-risk youth, which is where I think it evolved. They used it in a much different spirit … about what they were learning and how they were growing. It would seem the value and accuracy of a “pointer” is in the ear of the recipient.
SuziCate offered a good New Yorker link about the beginnings and metamorphosis of this phrase, Jamie. Check out her comment if you are interested.
In your example of use, I’m surprised teachers would respond with such a broad brush. I realize the youth must have also been given valid assessments about what was good and what needed more attention dependent upon the learning/teaching objective.
I wasn’t a teacher in that sense. I facilitated classes to prepare foster and at risk youth to move forward and complete GED, vocational training, job search and to eventually gain employment and go on to other levels of education and career development. It was their spirit that moved me and that I know was behind the phrase (like our class was “all good” and our classmates are “good”) and my job, my mission to encourage that and not to step on it, though of course we also faced disparaties and barriers and the ways and means we might deal with the emotions and material fallout and so forth. It was indeed all good and so were they, heros all …
Another facet to Jamie! More insight into the goodness I’ve found in all I learn about you! And what rewarding work. I hope you’ve been able to see the results of any one of those kids over the years.
“It’s all good” originated on the street as an expression of stoic resilience by the downtrodden.
Here is a great article about the origins in the New Yorker. It is well worth the read. I think you’ll find it intereting. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2001/06/11/its-all-good
Thanks for this link, SuziCate! It explains a lot – the phrase came about far earlier than I realized and has been adopted for many diverse uses and purposes, but this really caught my eye: “The phrase continues to be reflexively used in the rap world, and it has now been adopted ironically by upper-middle-class white people, in whose parlance “It’s all good” is usually a way of preëmptively closing a conversation—”
Stephen Cope’s story certainly expresses my feelings about it. The article says: “The first time Cope heard the expression was shortly after he arrived at Kripalu (a Yoga center), twelve years ago. “My car had broken down in the middle of a nor’easter, and I ended up having to walk home through the storm and got pneumonia,” he said. “I remember someone proposed to me the notion that this was all good, and I definitely had a reaction to it: it is not good being sick, and it would have been good if I had had a cell phone. The only thing that is definitely all good all the time is anything that comes in a blue box from Tiffany.”
I’m going to call it **benign insolence**…a new phrase? The old Armed Forces description doesn’t quite suffice: dumb insolence.
I think people say trite things like that because they don’t know what else to say.
Yes, Lorna, that may be the case if something really heavy is being expressed. For ones standing with a cell phone in hand saying “Uh-huh. Uh-huh” and whose body language suggests their on one of the Olympic start lines, the New Yorker’s descriptive seems to fit well, “It’s all good” is usually a way of preëmptively closing a conversation—”
Yes, I’ve heard it used that way.
Making bland, non-active statements, to my mind, is a socially learnt response without the intention to engage. There are several similar innate phrases in use in our day-to-day conversations that may not literally mean much but do convey a sense to the listener(s). So they do serve a purpose in the way of the user showing up as being polite and not being perceived as rude or arrogant.
If all of us were to, one fine morning, adopt the use of language which is fully meaningful, action specific and necessary, society would be the poorer I believe.
Just my thoughts….. … Liked the post.
Here’s my feeling, Shakti: If all of us were to engage with a friend who needs to be heard and validated, what a world of rich relationships!
“It’s All Good.”
Yeah, I hear that a lot. I never liked it either, Amy!!
The other day as I walked past somebody at work, they smiled and said…. “How can I pray for you today?”
I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved that, how validated it made me feel, how I wished I would have thought of it!
What a unique way to let someone know they are important to us!
That is a wonderful story, I never had heard that one before, but Pete is right. It is all good for no matter what life throws at us, hopefully we can learn and grow because of it.
Yes, if the phrase is used as one Zen Buddhist to another – with the intended depth – Pete is “right”. I’m addressing it being used as a whitewash. Anyone going through a rough patch doesn’t need to be told “It’s all good” when their heart is cracking – even if we know what the phrase means within the belief system of our faith or our spiritual path. I KNOW everything has a purpose, but there are times and places for discussing that with someone.
I agree on the “whitewash” that it’s sometime used as. Don’t impose that on others cuz they simply might be on the front end of the grieving process. People are where they are in the process. It’s sometimes taken me decades to awaken to the “good” in some of the circumstances that have found me. I’m still waiting on “more to be revealed” on a good many of the others….but I’ve come to trust the process–and I do have hope that “good” will come.
But not every human being is at that place of spiritual connectedness/trust that your readers are at. LOL. Some days I’m not there myself and all I need is a compassionate listener while I puke out ever pissy thought I have so I can make room for some of that hope to enter.
I wanna strangle WPIML when he reminds me “It’s all good”, but I know his heart and I trust his motives for reminding me.
Those are the circumstances I try to use the saying….but more oft than not, because people are in thier own stage of processing grief (whatever the loss) that I use it in terms of my circumstances. I know, because I have a G-d who loves me with a passion (LOL…even when I’m pissy and snarky…ESPECIALLY when I’m pissy and snarky), that it really IS all “good”.
I’ve just been around to visit you, Mel. I wanted to explain my absence and let you know – your comments are so readily unique and so welcome. This has pushed some buttons it seems…I was only pole-vaulting over mouse droppings! Funny how that works. When I feel I’ve offered something profound – pfffffftttt! Human nature will forever keep me in fodder.