Background: My friend, ZK, comes from a German family and is bilingual in English and German. I asked her if she knew any German proverbs, and this was her response:
ZK: “Another proverb I know is In der Nacht sind alle Katzen grau, and that translates to ‘in the night all the cats are grey’ which means at night people are no longer individuals because they all look the same.”
Analysis: This proverb is interesting because I think it speaks a lot to a collectivist identity. Similar to the themes of the other proverbs about anti-materiality and delayed gratification, it appears that German proverbs shoot for the long-term goals–in the end, most of what you’re currently doing will be irrelevant, and so constantly having a sense of the big picture appears to be important here, and these proverbs are intended to prevent people from losing focus here.