Fact-checking Your Quotations

If you want to write a post starting with a Gandhi quotation, you might want to check that the quotation in question is actually something the man said. Specifically, Gandhi did not say or write ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’. The closest that he came (according to research by Brian Morton) 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.

Which is similar in spirit, but too long to easily — or legibly — fit on a coffee mug.

But you are in good company. President Obama had to replace a brand new carpet for the Oval Office after it was revealed that Martin Luther King Jr was not the source of the quotation ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. In point of fact the line is from Theodore Parker, someone that King often paraphrased. The original line was this:

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one. . . . But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.

Still, your piece stands on its own pretty well without the mistaken Gandhism, anyway.

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Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

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