If you're not part...

Posted by ESC on September 13, 2001

In Reply to: "Not part of the solution . . ." posted by R. Berg on September 13, 2001

: : What does this saying mean:

: : "If your not part of the solution, your part of the problem."

: : Thanks!

: First of all, "your" should be "you're," both times, because it's short for "you are." The saying is a way of encouraging people to pay attention to societal problems and do something to solve them--like "Walk your talk" and its variants, discussed recently on this forum. Put another way, it's an effort to make people feel guilty for not doing anything. The idea is that each individual can be a good citizen or a bad citizen; there is no middle course.

IF YOU'RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM. "Anyone who doesn't take direct action to make things better is just an obstacle to changing the status quo (the current state of affairs). The saying originated in the United States in the 1960s. The American activist Eldridge Cleaver is generally credited with its coinage . However, according to Ralph Keys, it was used earlier by City College (N.Y.) president Buell Gallagher . Either part can be used separately in the affirmative or the negative: part of the solution or part of the problem." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).