If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. – Eldridge Cleaver

A potential solution, but it creates its own problems, right?

A potential solution, but it creates its own problems, right?

What does that mean? This quote, and variations of it, shows up attributed to a couple people, including as an African Proverb, but the longer version is his, and goes as follows:

‘There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.’

This is one of the duality quotes where you are sorted into one of two camps. The solution camp and the problem camp, in the case of this quote.

The question is: Can you sit on the sidelines, or does not helping make you part of the problem? Not every problem requires all-hands-on-deck, but I think far too many do too little.

Why is doing something important?  
Doing something is important. But doing just any old thing isn’t usually very helpful. So there will be a time for reflection, a time of observation and planning, before useful action can commence. Sometimes, we know what to do because we’ve seen it before, that’s fine.

However the random action, the “But I’m doing something” is usually counter productive. Look at knee-jerk politics. An emergency occurs. There is some useful reaction, but then the opportunists descend like vultures, ready to exploit the event for their own purposes.

Instead, the more productive work is typically done by examining the needs, and thinking about how to best fill them. While it can get complicated with special needs or odd circumstances (such as a storm, where roads and power are out, but food needs to be moved, stored and prepared), a little planning goes a long way.

While there are new ‘problems’ surfacing all the time, many are extensions of known problems, or at least sufficiently similar to existing ones that we have a clue as to what we have to do. That is why some people spend their lives finding patterns in solutions.

Where can I apply this in my life?
There are problems in all of our lives. There are plenty of problems in our local and national governments. There are plenty of problems in the world. Where do you want to start? I would recommend in your personal life, but it is your choice, right?

One thing that makes this difficult is that not everyone sees something as a problem. To some, it may be exactly as it should be. Then you have people who agree that something should be done, but want to do the exact opposite of what you wish to do. And there are those who wish the exact same end as you, but believe a different path will solve it more quickly or easily.

So one way to minimize these issues is to start with yourself. Hopefully you can come to a conclusion regarding the status of something as a problem or not. Also you should be able to determine both the direction to take, and the proper path to get there, right?

What are some of the problems in your life? I know, that’s a really heavy question, but by doing nothing, are you part of the solution, or part of the problem? At least start by thinking about the problems in your life, and making a list. Grab some paper and get busy.

With a list of some of the issues in your life in front of you, put a mark next to the most significant challenges you face in the next few months. Two or three should be a good start, as you can always come back for more challenges at a later date, right?

Select one and consider this: You know where you are, but where do you want to be? If you have a money shortage, you would select a different solution if you were just a few dollars short compared to being a few thousand dollars short, right? Think about that for a moment.

Now try to figure out which direction you want to go. What is the solution, in the broadest terms. In the money example, do you cut spending, find a new source of income, some of both, or do you rob a bank? Be honest with yourself regarding what you are willing and able to use as the solution.

Now consider what the actual path might be, or come up with several options, in case the first one doesn’t work out as well as you hoped. Going back to the money issue, can you get more hours at work? Can you get a second job? Can you make things on the side to sell at garage sales?

You have identified a problem, and come up with some ideas on how to solve, or at least reduce, the problem. But until you take action, are you really part of the solution? So now it is time to get busy. Pick one of your options and get started.

From: Twitter, @DavidRoads
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eldridgecl163167.html
Photo
by Lydia

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10 Responses to If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

  1. Paul puma 28 March 2016 at 11:44 pm #

    As a 60’s activist ,many people would quote Eldridge , but eventually we just used this slogan as a catch phrase in the common vernacular .i believe it was EC who first coined it.or maybe some unknown black panther . And Eldrige picked up on it?

    • philosiblog 4 April 2016 at 4:13 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

      Unfortunately I did this post before I started being more thorough in my sourcing of a quote. Feel free to dig around and see if you can find a definite source for the quote. I’d love to know if you can dig something up.

  2. Maggie 3 August 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    where and when did Eldridge Cleaver say this? I have seen the complete quote twice but no citations for me to go to to verify for myself.

    • philosiblog 8 August 2015 at 11:57 pm #

      Try this:
      http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-1859,00.html

      They list it as a slight misquotation, and include the entire quote. It’s close enough for my purposes, but if you’re using it as a source for a paper or serious research, include the full (and presumably accurate) quote.

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