I can’t say that I’m a big admirer of politicians in general. I do like them when they do their jobs in the true interests of their constituents and the overall good of the nation. Whichever nation they’re serving. Some of them begin their careers in politics with the best of motives and the highest of intentions. Then, usually something goes terribly wrong.
But I was thinking about some U.S. Presidents who basically did OK and really helped the nation when it really counted. I can think of only a few who were mostly ethical and helpful. Most are Democrats. To be fair I also can think of three Republicans who were basically decent. In reverse order they were, Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Mr. Lincoln was an exceptional leader even though he had to be prodded a bit on the slavery issue. He was the best the nation could do for the times the United States went through then. There are few people then or now who could measure up to his character. Even if we take away the godlike qualities we imagine our historical leaders may have possessed.
Godlike or not, godly or not, it takes an astonishingly dedicated and ethical person to excel in the Chief Executive’s Job. That’s one part of what I find more than interesting about history. Picking apart and analyzing movers and shakers from the past. Be they Cicero or Lincoln, they had special charisma and character.
Lincoln’s legacy is relatively recent in comparison to other past leaders on other continents. He’s the first President to have had himself photographed. Not only that, but his reputation as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents ever is widely acclaimed. I picked two of his quotations that have helped me live my own life. Mind you, I can’t hold a candle to Mr. Lincoln, but I can still glean something from his wisdom.
Here’s a great saying on staying true to oneself and associating with friends who are of a like or higher character as oneself. “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” That is a wonderful way to live a worthwhile life. A life that allows you to live your own values and keep a clear conscience. Not only that, but we are known by the company we keep. No blind loyalty is to be found in that Lincoln quote. I came across that statement by our 16th President for the first time when I did a research paper for history class. It spurred my lifelong interest in ethics.
To this day, I firmly believe that if a person lives his or her life in the most ethical manner possible, he or she will have lived the most honorable, satisfying life possible. I will also say that I have been privilaged to have befriended many fine people along the way. I’ve only had to decide to break all ties with only one of those people. I broke off relations with him reluctantly but decisively. I am glad I made the decision. Everyone else is of honorable intention and of good reputation. My friends, acquaintances and myself live our lives pretty much in the best manner we are able.
The second bit of pithy wisdom from honest Abe seems related to the first quote. In a way it is, but it expands upon it. It’s one of Mr. Lincoln’s most famous statements. Read through it a couple of times to get the full impact of its power. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” We all wish to live many years past this one, that’s normal and good. But if we wring our hands and become overly concerned about only our longevity, we’ve lost direction in life.
The life in our years is something more than immediate, selfish, greedy grasping for more and more. It’s more than closing in to a cocooned life and living a sheltered existance. The life in your years is a highly personal value statement. It’s not something weighed on profit and loss statements, bank accounts or how many toys you have when you die. Certainly poverty is not the road to joy in today’s world either. Somewhere in your heart of hearts is the true answer for you. Maybe it intersects with the life of others, one other or is a solitary path. Again, that is totally a personal decision one makes.
In this modern world, you’re the boss, it’s really only your call. I hope I’ve given you something worthwhile to think on at the start of your week.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes President Lincoln, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar”.