Modern Proverb: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything (Suggested revision for DMP)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 4 18:02:58 UTC 2013

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything" is listed
in the seminal reference "The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs". I was
asked about this saying recently and found a citation in 1945. DMP
also gives a cite in 1945, but the month is not listed. While checking
the cite on microfilm I found that DMP apparently lists the article
title and author of the article which precedes the article which
contains the saying. The following revised data is correct (I hope):

Date: January 1945
Journal: Mental Hygiene
Volume 29
Number 1
Article Title: The Over-All Mental-Health Needs of the Industrial
Plant, with Special Reference to War Veterans
Author: Gordon A. Eadie, M.D.
Affiliation: Eastern Aircraft Division, General Motors Corporation,
Linden, New Jersey
Start Page of Article: 101
Quote Page: 103

[Begin excerpt]
We are trying to show him not only what we are fighting against, but
what we are fighting for. So many of these boys have only a very hazy
idea of the real issues of the war. About all they see is "going back
to the good old days." This is a dangerous state. If they don't stand
for something, they will fall for anything.
[End excerpt]

The article “Industrial Mental Health" by Clayton W. Fountain is
listed in DMP. It starts on page 95. The January 1945 issue starts on
page 1. The April 1945 issue starts on page 177. The January issue is
Volume 29, Number 1. The April issue is Volume 29, Number 2.

In May 1945 the saying was used during a radio program called "Town
Meeting of the Air" according to "Radio Life" weekly magazine:

[ref] 1945 May 20, Radio Life, Volume 11, Number 11, RADIO: West -
National and International, Subheading: How Could It Miss?, Quote Page
7, Column 3. Published in Los Angeles, California. (Old Time Radio
Researchers Group; PDF of magazine; Archive located at[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
Before three thousand interested spectators, Irene Dunne, Eddie
Cantor, Will Durant and Rev. J. Herbert Smith brought the "Town
Meeting of the Air" to Los Angeles with a bang—or should we say a

Miss Dunne capably summed up the affirmative by stating that "If we
don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything."
[End excerpt]

Google Books and HathiTrust have a match in a volume that contains
proceedings of meetings held between 1940 to 1949, inclusive. This
cite might be earlier than the ones above.

Volume Title: Proceedings of the ... national convention of the Young
Women's Christian Associations of the United States of America.
Proceedings Number and Year: 16th-18th 1940-1949
Publisher National Board, Young Women's Christian Associations, New York, N.Y.
HathiTrust Match Page 142 "likely to fall for anything"

[Begin Google Books extract]
We have a phrase for it in Boston: Every time we find ourselves bogged
down or have strayed a bit, one board member says, "If you don't stand
for something, you are likely to fall for anything!"
[End Google Books extract]


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