5.5

“Be the Change you wish to see in the World.” ~ (Not) Gandhi

Gandhi was here.

Bonus: Why Gandhi chose not to eat meat.

And: Gandhi’s Top Ten Fundamentals for Changing the World.

From the NY Times, excerpt “Falser Words Were Never Spoken.”

…Gandhi’s words have been tweaked a little too much in recent years. Perhaps you’ve noticed a bumper sticker that purports to quote him: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you first come across it, this does sound like something Gandhi would have said. But when you think about it a little, it starts to sound more like … a bumper sticker. Displayed brightly on the back of a Prius, it suggests that your responsibilities begin and end with your own behavior. It’s apolitical, and a little smug.

Sure enough, it turns out there is no reliable documentary evidence for the quotation. The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Here, Gandhi is telling us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand, but there is no suggestion in his words that personal transformation is enough. In fact, for Gandhi, the struggle to bring about a better world involved not only stringent self-denial and rigorous adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence; it also involved a steady awareness that one person, alone, can’t change anything, an awareness that unjust authority can be overturned only by great numbers of people working together with discipline and persistence.

When you start to become aware of these bogus quotations, you can’t stop finding them…”

~

Bonus: Gandhi: how to be an effective Activist.

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Dipesh Kharade Jan 10, 2016 4:04am

I think it came from Sanskrit Shlock…or from Vedas. I don't exactly remember but it is kinda like this –
तत्परिवर्तनं भव यज्जगति द्रष्टुमिच्छसि (Meaning be the change, you want to see in world)..
You can dig in there. I don't remember exact source..But it is definitely one from Sanskrit.

Angelamorgan000 Jun 23, 2015 7:05am

Very nice article and thank you for the information…..paraphrasing service.

jeff Mar 18, 2015 7:46am

It’s like the quote, It’s not how much you give, It’s how much you love giving”. I care not who said it, it is the meaning that matters more.

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