Why do we say "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem"?

Well-Known Expressions

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem

Meaning:

If you don't take direct action to make things better you're an obstacle to change.

Background:

This saying originates in the USA in the 1960s and is generally attributed to Leroy Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998), a writer and political activist, and early leader of the Black Panther Party. But actually it was advertising agency owner Charles Rosner who coined the expression for a now defunct company named VISTA.

When interviewed by the New York Times in 2012, Charlie Rosner, recalled that the campaign was a rush job in response to an offer of free ad space on the sides of Washington’s mail trucks. The promotion included several different catchphrases; Mr. Rosner’s own favorite was "Not exactly the sort of work your mother had in mind for you."

The New York Times contacted Mr. Rosner after politician Paul Ryan's use of the expression, generally attributed to a member of the Black Panthers, caught the attention of the media. When asked by the newspaper if he had plans to collect usage fees off Paul Ryan (or for that matter anyone else), Mr Rosner, a registered Democrat, responded, “certain pieces of the lingo sort of become the property of nobody... This one seems to have the half life of Strontium-90. It’s terrific that he’s using it; it’s a pretty decent set of words to live by.”

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: In Extremis
    In Extremis
    by Lindsey Hilsum
    Marie ColvinInternational journalist Marie Colvin pushed the limits in her work and her personal life. Widely ...
  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.