The following events all happened:
- A Unity minister sends out her periodical electronic newsletter. It begins with a fabulous Einstein quote. Unfortunately, the quote is a fake.
- A Unity minister posts a series of daily Lenten lessons on his website. A congregant sends me the link to this “amazing” material written by a “brilliant” minister. I click on the link and read the truly excellent material. I immediately recognize it (and each lesson presented) as word-for-word from Charles Fillmore’s Keep a True Lent. There is absolutely no attribution or indication that it is anything other than the work of the minister presenting it.
- Visiting the website of another Unity center, I click the link for their newsletter and find a very, very familiar article on the front page. It is my own article, reprinted word-for-word from my own newsletter, signed by the other minister. The artwork that accompanied my article, created by a friend and congregant, is also reprinted.
It is so very easy to copy and paste, or hit the “Share” button, but we need to do our due diligence. When my son was very young, he loved the cartoon cat Garfield. He and I had a great discussion one day when Garfield, tongue firmly in cheek, declared, “If it’s on TV, it must be true.” Well … apparently many of us think that if it’s on the Internet it must also be true.
I knew that the Einstein quote was not true because I had already seen it, and thought it was so completely perfect I wanted to use it to illustrate one of my own lessons. A simple search (worded as “did Einstein say …?”) took, according to Google, .42 seconds and yielded over 24,000,000 results. The overwhelming consensus? Einstein never said any such thing. No only did he not say it, there’s a lot of quite believable and scholarly discussion pointed convincingly in the direction that he would have actively disagreed with what was being attributed to him. Other questionable quotes are shared each day.
Why is this so important? Does it really matter, as long as we’re making our point? I believe it does. We do not help our movement (which we claim to be grounded in Truth) by repeating and spreading falsehoods. Those very “cultural creatives” whom we are so certain would benefit from our message if only they knew about it also know how to do Google searches! We do not gain credibility in anyone’s eyes by spreading half-truths and outright fabrications, no matter how brilliantly aligned with our beliefs they may be.
I applaud anyone who will put our co-founders’ words out there for all to see. I make extensive use of quotes from the Fillmores (Charles and Myrtle), Eric Butterworth, H Emilie Cady, and others in our rich library. The fact is that many, if not most, of our congregants will never sit down and read a book by Charles Fillmore. If I can take one paragraph, and excite them with the possibility contained within that one paragraph, then perhaps they will be moved to take some action step which will positively impact their lives and the lives of others. They may even pick up a book and read it. And, if you come across material written by someone else that you want to share, please ask! I would have been thrilled to say yes to a request to reprint my article. My friend would have been honored that there was a wish to use her artwork.
Fabricated quotes from the Internet will never excite me as much as this, by Charles Fillmore, from Talks on Truth (pg 99):
It is your mission to express all that you can imagine God to be. Let this be your standard of achievement; never lower it, nor allow yourself to be belittled by the cry of sacrilege. You can attain to everything that you can imagine. If you imagine that it is possible to God, it is also possible to you ….