The Quotidian, August 9, 2010 ~ If Not Now, When?

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel (110 BCE to 10 CE)

Rabbi Hillel is a revered and famous Jewish religious leader. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud. Along with the above quotation, he also devised the “Golden Rule”: “That which is hateful to you, do not to your fellow.”

“If not now, then when? If not today, then why make your promises…?” ~ Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) [From her song “If Not Now…” on her Tracy Chapman album (1988)].

Chapman is a songwriter, performer, and activist.

I remember driving to work in Connecticut in 1988 – 1989 with Chapman’s cassette tape playing. Imagine me driving and jamming to “Fast Car”, “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution”, “If not now…”, and other Tracy Chapman songs! I have it on CD now; it’s still one of my favorite CD’s.

[Sources: for first Rabbi Hillel quotation. Wikipedia for dates and biographical information about Rabbi Hillel; Wikipedia for “Golden Rule” quotation. Wikipedia for date and some biographical information about Tracy Chapman. Her Tracy Chapman CD for partial song lyrics. Oh, and my personal recollection].

Note: BCE – Before Current Era; CE – Current Era.

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
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