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person cupping both hands with 'make a change' note and coins
Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

In his 1951 tome The Life We Prize, Quaker writer David Elton Trueblood penned:

"A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit."

In the 1980s, a number of Republican politicians began attributing variations of the phrase as an "ancient Greek proverb." In the 1990s, it appears in print mainly in the Congressional Record of the United States Congress.

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