cultivate one's own garden

To take care of one's own needs before trying to take care of others: “The mayor ought to cultivate his own garden before he starts telling the governor what to do.” This is the moral of Candide, by Voltaire: take care of your own, and the world will take care of itself.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.