In my mother tongue, there is an idiom which is roughly translated as:

The sun will rise even if the rooster doesn't crow.

It is a lesson that one shouldn't be arrogant in one's ability, because even though they think that they are doing something important, in reality, it might be something trivial and/or someone else might be even better at doing it. Is there an equivalent (or close enough) idiom in English that I could use?

I want to use it in a story where an rich man refuses to make a contribution to an important social cause, with an air of pomp and arrogance, followed by another character saying something like, "Don't be so arrogant and think that if you don't contribute, this (social cause) won't happen. We will find another way to do it. The sun will rise even if the rooster doesn't crow."

The story behind this idiom is that the rooster observed that the sun always rises after he crows in the morning, and so decided that it was his crowing that made the sun rise. He became arrogant on realising this and decided that if he doesn't get up and crow the next day, the sun won't rise and everyone will beg him to crow. Of course, things did not turn out that way, and his arrogance was shattered the next morning when the sun rose "anyway" and he realised that nobody even noticed that the rooster did not crow.

  • 4
    I think it's perfectly fine as is - the sense is obvious. Mar 13 '14 at 18:49
  • I agree with StoneyB, but if you are interested in other ways to say it you could think about “we'll get there with or without you” (not really an idiom, per se, but there you have it). The only idioms that are even close are things like “there's more than one way to skin a cat” (yuck, right?) or “all roads lead to Rome”, but neither of those apply in your context. Mar 13 '14 at 19:30
  • Your post reminds me of the phrase, "Life goes on with or without you." (Though it's not very poetic.) Mar 13 '14 at 20:07
  • Great, now I've got "Annie" in my head: "The sun'll come out - tomorrow!"
    – nxx
    Mar 13 '14 at 20:10
  • 1
    "The world will carry on spinning" is a favourite of mine. I've used it, for example, in the context of people struggling into work when they are sick, worried that their absence would be detrimental to the company's functioning. Few people are truly indispensible!
    – toandfro
    Mar 14 '14 at 0:40

I think the phrase is an aphorism rather than an idiom. And as translated it is perfectly clear.

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