Thoughts From The Wilderness – Stating The Obvious – Necessary?

I originally posted this back in August after we returned from the east coast of Canada. I re-read it in the past few days and added a couple of thoughts that sprang to mind.

Sitting here I’m wondering if a more appropriate title might be along the lines of “Thoughts From The Wilderness – Saving Us From Ourselves”

I don’t obsess overmuch I think. In fact, I’m not really sure I obsess over anything in particular. Certainly, not an obsession that has a negative attachment to it. But, on the other hand, obsessing over not obsessing over anything is likely an obsession in itself.

Nevertheless, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had this obsession with the phrase “stating the obvious”

I have the habit at times, as you may have of “stating the obvious.” One phrase I’ve used throughout the summer, given the fire bans that were in place throughout much of central and northern Ontario at that time was, “We could use some rain, it’s pretty dry.”

Brilliant deduction there Sherlock!

As I said, this “stating the obvious” concept has been rumbling around in my mind for the past week or so and has been leading me down the trail of “is stating the obvious” a good or bad thing? Or is it just a thing that’s more neutral as compared to being good or bad?

Or have we graduated to a state where much needs to be posted for liability issues given that many people can’t see danger when it is simply right in front of them?

This sign attached to a rock at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia certainly caught my attention when we visited there in June of this year.


In my mind the question here is, why state the obvious when it should be obvious to everyone?

For those of you who have never been, Peggy’s Cove is a historic small fishing harbour located south of Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada. Although it started out as a fishing village and there is still an active lobster fishery, Peggy’s Cove has now become a major tourist destination for the east coast of Canada.

Tourists flock there mainly for the views of the Atlantic Ocean from the rocks at the water’s edge and the historic Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse.

There has been a fair amount written in tourist publications and online about staying off “the black rocks” and as well, there are numerous signs at Peggy’s Cove stating:


All of this seems pretty obvious to me – there is danger here, so be aware.

So, back to the task at hand.

I read that what is obvious to some people may not be obvious to others. Is this obvious to you? Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t.

Reading articles of whether “stating the obvious” is a good or bad thing, presented views at either end of the spectrum, as well as in the middle of the road.

“State the obvious – it’s a good thing.”

Only a fool “states the obvious.”

And finally, “does it really matter?”


“Stating the obvious” is all of these things. Perhaps one of the keys though is “what are we stating the obvious about?” If using Peggy’s Cove example, “stating the obvious” could mean the difference between life and death.

Check this CTV news article out from 2015.

Here’s a Twitter account you might want to check out too. The intentions were good, they needed some help in delivery though.

Over the years, Lynn and I have observed an increase in the number of signs posted, warnings written on permits and as well as media articles regarding safety for those heading into the great outdoors.

“Hazards Exist – You are responsible for your own safety”

3Is “stating the obvious” a non-issue? Apparently not.

Makes me think we’re heading down the road, at least in terms of pursuits in the outdoors of “needing to protect people from themselves.” And realistically, we’re already well down that road.

Nevertheless, here are a couple of things to think about when “stating the obvious.”

Repeat When Necessary

Not sure how it is in the rest of the world, but in Canada, we still mess up. We’ve violated in the past and continue at times to violate people’s Charter Rights; people still have challenges following our most basic laws; people continue to start walking across the intersection even when the “Don’t Walk” sign is showing.

Being reminded is important and necessary – why?

  • we forget
  • often it can take several times before we understand
  • we need reminders to put ideas into practice

It can take a number of cracks at it before we grasp something. Even when we know it, we can forget to follow what we learned.

Obvious to some; may not be obvious to others

  • just because it’s obvious to you, doesn’t equate into being obvious for all
  • people are wired differently, we see things differently
  • what we see as important, others may not see or be at a point to see it as important.

One last consideration is by not “stating the obvious” does that keep us from saying the things that actually might need to be said?  Could there be a stigma attached to “stating the obvious” that makes us shy back from saying things that require being said?

You know, “where no one wants to mention the elephant in the room.”

Maybe Samuel Johnson got it right  – “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” 

If this post doesn’t seem to make any sense or go any place in particular or have any conclusion that’s all right. I see a couple of new posts starting to form.

“Stating the obvious” – good, bad or neutral?

Lots to think about.

Thanks for reading.

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