Gone Off The Rails

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

30 August 2022

Most people prefer a balance. When things go out of balance trouble begins. When your tire goes out of round or begins to separate, steering can be difficult. If you are driving on the highway, even at the speed limit, and your out of round or separating tire has a failure it could cause a blow out.  Your car could end up in a ditch flipped over, on its side, or upright. You could roll over multiple times before your car comes to rest in a ditch or in the lanes of traffic.  That out of round or separated should have been discovered by the way the car handled and replaced before it caused an untold number of injuries, damages, and perhaps deaths.  

A commuter train which hits something on the tracks or crosses a defective rail can derail causing an untold number of injuries, damages, and perhaps deaths. Railroads regularly inspect their rails.

At the first sign of trouble fear, anxiety, and other signs of danger begin to manifest themselves. Some will be treated for PTSD after a bad tire blowout, train derailment or other trauma.

Go off the rails is an idiom that has been in use for over one hundred years. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition

Let’s examine the meaning of the expression go off the rails, where it came from and its use in sentences.

To go off the rails means to behave in an abnormal way, to act in an insane manner or highly unpredictable or illogical manner. When applied to a situation or institution, the idiom go off the rails may mean that things have gotten out of control or have careened into unexpected or unmanageable territory.

The phrase go off the rails has been in use since the mid-1800s and is a reference to a train derailment. When a train goes off the rails it is no longer progressing along its preordained track and is uncontrollable and chaotic.

Today, the mental picture conjured by the idiom go off the rails is most probably of a roller coaster car leaving its track. The first commercial roller coaster was installed at Coney Island, New York, in the 1880s.

The idiom go off the rails predates that. Related phrases are goes off the rails, went off the rails, going off the rails. (1)

Here are some examples:

The residents of Hollyoaks gather for the funeral of tragic teen Lily McQueen, who lost her life earlier this month when she died from sepsis as a result of wounds from her self-harming addiction, and it appears no one is struggling with the loss more than her husband Prince McQueen (Malique Thompson-Dwyer) who starts to go off the rails as he’s gripped by grief. (2)

“Let me just say, I’m very, very dismayed and disappointed that the chief law enforcement officer of our country is going off the rails yesterday and today,” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference in Virginia. (3)

As we start to chat, the members of the vivacious vocal trio Diva Station warn me that our conversation about their first major concert, with the subtitle Songs Through the Ages might go off the rails.  (4)

In an abnormal or malfunctioning condition, as in Her political campaign has been off the rails for months. The phrase occurs commonly with go, as in Once the superintendent resigned, the effort to reform the school system went off the rails. This idiom alludes to the rails on which trains run; if a train goes off the rails, it stops or crashes. [Mid-1800s] (5)

It could be easily said that many in the world have gone off the rails by their actions or reactions to other people or events. For awhile people where told to ignore common sense and not to believe what you see and hear, that if there was something wrong, it was you. The media had a strong hand in gas lighting us and for awhile it was working until it didn’t.

One day parents realized off the rails agenda school boards and teachers were ramming filth down their child’s throats. Parents where told they had no say in what is being taught in the classroom. Parents were arrested and harassed by various agencies, until parents started replacing school board members at the ballot box.  For awhile it was working until it didn’t.

Children are a Blessing from God and should be treated as such. Children are our future leaders, train them to walk uprightly and we’ll have good leaders in our future.

Regularly check to keep the balance to stay on the rails.

Reverend Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center (AZ) www.narrowpathministries.org   and www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org

(1) https://grammarist.com/idiom/go-off-the-rails/

(2) https://www.radiotimes.com/tv/soaps/hollyoaks/gun-drama-at-lilys-funeral-as-prince-goes-bad-in-hollyoaks/

(3) https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Pelosi-Disappointed-that-Barr-is-going-off-the-rails-586444

(4) https://www.saltwire.com/halifax/

(5) https://www.dictionary.com/browse/off-the-rails



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