Clothed in green, not fit to be seen

The title to this post is a quote from my Mum, where she got it I do not know.

Sidey suggested an unusual theme this week – she said: it is a garbled version of a Thoreau comment.

Enterprises that require new clothes

So I didn’t have any ideas apart from emperors and nakedness which wouldn’t suit a family blog.

So I looked up the quote (thanks google) and found the original:

BEWARE OF ALL enterprises that require new clothes

Indeed – why leave out that word BEWARE, and what’s with the ALL

Then I read the very next quote which happened to be open on the page (its a bit more wordy):

So behave that the odor of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere, that when we behold or scent a flower, we may not be reminded how inconsistent your deeds are with it; for all odor is but one form of advertisement of a moral quality, and if fair actions had not been performed, the lily would not smell sweet. The foul slime stands for the sloth and vice of man, the decay of humanity; the fragrant flower that springs from it, for the purity and courage which are immortal.

eeeugh – beware indeed –

free association –

what will I think of next –

see yourself as others see you –

actions speak louder than words –

etc etc till mind settled on

be the change you want to see in the world

So who said that – another google – apparently originated with Gandhi, but has been grabbed by the electioneering at the moment here in USA there is a plethora of youtube yuk to be found, in my view considerably distorting the original intent. And then I chanced on a great article [Brian Morton, NY Times] Falser Words were Never Spoken, which begins with a polular misquote from Thoreau, and goes on to what Gandhi night really have said [there being no evidence at all that he said what he is said to have said]:

 Gandhi’s words have been tweaked a little too 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.”

So what is happening when we rewrite quotes?

What is happening when we make a short soundbite?

Is it avoiding the original intent?

Distorting it?

Just rephrasing but in tune with it?

or is it that anything we do is the ACTION by which the secret intent in our unconscious hearts will be seen? Alongside what we thought we intended…

Either good or bad or neither good nor bad…




Politicians especially need to beware. We see you.

Another quote:

Once you write something or say something, its out there, and people will get to know you, sure, bringing their own view to the word. But you can bring your view also, and learn to know yourself as others do, as you do not, yet.

Who said that – me – you read it here first, I do not know if it is new, and I am having a green day today.

Isn’t blogging great! Fit to be seen, at least by some.


5 thoughts on “Clothed in green, not fit to be seen

  1. Green is certainly a risky colour – I would venture to say there are few people it really suits. Made me think of ‘Green Grow the Rushes, O’ with the lily white boys clothed all in green.
    Anyway, you have done a thorough Thoreau treatment of the subject, and then some!


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