Friday, May 15, 2009

Misattributed Quotes...

I recently reminded a young friend of mine that when he pops quotes of others on his Facebook page he really ought to attribute them to their author rather than just borrow them. To acknowledge sources of information is basic, but sometimes good information comes through the grapevine misattributed.

Tonight a quote was shared with me:
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything that you have."
The person sharing the quote had been told it was from Thomas Jefferson.

Remembering my admonition to my young friend, I decided to check the attribution; it didn't sound like Thomas Jefferson's language to me and the quote was memorable enough that I might drop it somewhere some day, like on my blog, and wouldn't want to be wrong about its origin.

I quickly googled my way right into numerous discussions of the various people this quote had been misattributed to, not only Thomas Jefferson, but Davy Crockett, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

Who said these words? It was President Gerald Ford addressing a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974. who said "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything that you have."
And he had said something very similar many years before as a representative to the U.S. Congress that is quoted in Stories and Gems of Wisdom by and About Politicians 1960 P.193 (source wikiquote).

When I read that Thomas Jefferson did communicate to Edward Carrington, Paris 27 May 1788,
"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." That made linguistic sense to me.

And when I read that in 1965 Ronald Reagan did say " Government is like a baby, an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." Well, I could believe this too.

If you "google" these quotes I've shared they will come up in multiple valid sources.
The moral of the story is check quotes out when someone tells you "so and so said..."
But then the moral is also, wow, these guys were kind of on the same page, weren't they?

What page is our government on now?

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The memory comes, a small sepia snapshot
with black triangle corners
to hold it in the pages of
days gone by.

Then frame-by-frame a blurry film
The limbs move. The head turns.
Our eyes meet.

Her hand reaches for the flowers
that I’d found
pristinely waving in the breeze
on the mountain ridge.

She takes the bedraggled flowers
from my hot little hand
tenderly she straightens the stems
“Are these for me? You picked these for me?”
She looks again at me.

‘It’s so pretty up there, Mother, You should see it.”
Slow smooth, the curve of her mouth begins
and the little teeth peek out and she laughs.
“How far did you go? Were you at the top?”

I nod, somehow believing if only she would come and see
she would stretch the boundaries she has set for me
to forever and beyond the long blue horizon.

“Someday,” she promised. “We’ll go together.”
She fills the blue glass vase,
tucks in the shooting stars, the limp poppies,
the yellow lanterns.

There is no photograph, but in my heart,
my mother’s smile, her hand reaching toward the flowers
and my hand, empty now.

© Jeannette

Friday, May 1, 2009

Umrigar on Words to the Would- be Writer

I am somewhere in the middle of reading Thrity Umrigar's Novel, The Space Between Us. I didn't pick it, and thus far I haven't figured out who in the not quite yet coalesced book group I am in did, but I find Umrigar's writing to be rich in complexity, bold in theme and tender of heart.

When I am done reading it I may want to write about the story or the applicability of the underlying themes, but I happened to flip to the back of the book and found a post-story section called "Words to the Wise Would-Be Writer...Fifteen Tips."

A journalist for many years and now a creative writing and literature professor at Case Western Reserve University, Umrigar has much to offer.

Here is her "tip" # 15 : " And finally, write for the right reasons. This is a bit of a personal superstition, I suppose. But the ability to write is a gift, a special grace. It should not be used for cynical purposes. Resist the temptation to write according to a formula or to imitate what is currently commercially successful. Write what is in your heart. Write the stories that make you proud of yourself, not embarrassed. And never lose the ability to know the difference." ( Page 16 of the "Read On " section of the Harper's Perennial PB Edition)

While it is delicate of her to suggest that her tips embody personal superstition, I don't see them that way. *See what you have ( in this case the ability to write) as a gift, resist various temptations, write what is in your heart that will be for the good and grow and hang onto your ability to know the difference.*

It's a good word for me...reminds me of the writings of a guy published back in the 1st century A.D. named James.