Lessons From Abe Lincoln - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Lessons From Abe Lincoln

This is Calvin Morekwa, a primary school classmate of mine. He is here heeding a lesson I learnt from Abe Lincoln: that is, discovering the wonder of books. I have displayed the photo here with his permission. Copyright © all rights reserved worldwide.

Much has been said about the greatness of Abe Lincoln. Like there was Theodore Roosevelt who wrote to his sons: "It is a great comfort for me to read the life and letters of Abraham Lincoln. I am impressed more and more everyday not only with the man's wonderful power and sagacity, but also his endless patience and at the same time, his unflinching resolution."

Then there was Barbara Jordan who quoted Lincoln in her famous 1976 US Democratic National Convention speech. She said, "Well, I am going to close my speech by quoting a Republican president and I ask you that as you listen to these words of Abraham Lincoln, relate them to the concept of a national community in which every last one of us participates: 'As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.'"

And then there was Ronald Reagan who also mentioned Lincoln in his eloquent 1981 inaugural speech. He said this of Lincoln: "Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln."

For me though, of all that Lincoln did and said, it was his letter to his son's teacher that inspires me most. I have reproduced the letter below with the text in green showing the parts I am currently improving on in so far as following the letter's advice is concerned:
"He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero;
That for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader...
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend.

Steer him away from envy, if you can,
And teach him the secret of quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick...
Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books...
But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him it is far honourable to fail than to cheat...
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong...
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon...
Teach him to listen to all men...
But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.

Teach him if you can how to laugh when he is sad...
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness...
Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right.
Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage to be impatient...
Let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what you can do...
He is such a fine fellow, my son!"
Yes, that letter inspires me. And I have always had the impression that Lincoln had me in mind when he penned it about one hundred and fifty years ago. May the spirit of Lincoln live in me, and I hope in you as well.

If you've enjoyed this story of mine on lessons from Abe Lincoln, you might also enjoy other stories I wrote on the lessons from Ben Carson and from Ronald Reagan and from Colin Powell and from Bill Clinton. Just click on those links in blue to jump straight into the stories.


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Re-writing Enlightening Stories

Early in 2015 after I gave up lying, exaggerating and plagiarism, I wrote a number of original stories on topics that interested me. Unfortunately, I misplaced the stories through carelessness probably because people were not liking or commenting on them in social media.

Losing those stories has saddened me because I must have possessed an insight and a way of thinking back in 2015 that I don't possess now. A bit saddening, isn't it?

That notwithstanding, I have decided to re-write the stories with the hope of crafting even better versions through Christ who strengthens me. Let me list the topics of the stories that I misplaced for you to tell me which ones you'd be interested in reading:
  • The Meaning of Success
  • Delight in Simple Things
  • Developing Good Sleeping Habits
  • Depression-free 2015
  • Rejecting Shame
  • A Clean Heart and Mind
  • Dealing With Unpleasant People
  • Simplifying Life
  • Acquiring Knowledge
  • Living As a Christian
  • An Eye for Beauty
  • Persistence and Determination
  • Using Time, Energy & Money Wisely
  • Partial Obedience = Disobedience
  • Goodwill
  • Self-confidence
  • Overcoming Challenges
  • Letting God Do the Revenge
There you have them: the topics of the stories I misplaced. Please hit the feedback link of my website (with a mouse pointer, of course) and let me know which ones you'd be interested in reading. Over to you!


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Lessons From Ben Carson

This is Ben Carson receiving from President George W. Bush the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States that a president can bestow. I have displayed the photo here with permission from the Carson Scholars Fund website. Copyright © all rights reserved worldwide.

Back in 2005 when I was in my final year in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre, I was having a group conversation with my classmates when my friend John Njiru mentioned Ben Carson. I can't remember what Njiru said of Ben Carson but that name stuck in my mind.

So much did that name stick in my mind that later on during a school function when a girl asked me what book I was carrying, I lied to her that it was a Ben Carson book. To which she disagreed, "No, Ben Carson's books aren't that size!" She must have been right because I didn't know who Ben Carson was back then.

It was only many months later in 2007 that I got to know Ben Carson when I purchased his inspiring book, Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential For Excellence, from a book-stand at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. Let me tell you a little about him and the valuable lessons he holds for us.

Ben Carson is a retired paediatrician who became an overnight success in 1987 for leading a 70-member team in separating Siamese twins co-joined in the head. He is currently serving in the Donald Trump administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

But Ben Carson rise to fame and fortune was not an easy one. His parents separated when he was 8 which depressed him as a child. His divorced mother struggled to raise her family, often working on more than two poorly paying jobs so as to sustain her family of two sons. Perhaps for those reasons, Ben Carson started off poorly in school. And in his teenage years, he had a terrible temper that almost made him commit murder when he at one time lunged a camping knife at a friend who had angered him; luckily, the steel blade struck the friend's metal belt buckle and snapped.

Despite those humble beginnings, Ben Carson changed his fate when under instructions from his mother, he reduced the time he indulged in watching television and spent more time reading books borrowed from a local library. That effort paid off handsomely because he managed to rise from the bottom of his class to the top in a short time when he was in Grade 5: a big boost to his self-esteem.

In high school, Ben Carson's grades dropped again as he tried to keep up with peer pressure. He recovered from that back-sliding and went on to get accepted at Yale, one of America's top colleges.

Again at Yale, Ben Carson found himself struggling in academics as he endeavoured to keep up with Yale's demanding curriculum and its bright students, some of whom were in the genius category. Thanks to God, he managed to survive and thrive at Yale as a result of which he was accepted at the University of Michigan Medical School.

I just like the way President George W. Bush summarized the life of Ben Carson when he was awarding him the Medal of Freedom in 2008 (see photo above). President Bush said:
"The story of our first recipient begins in a poor neighbourhood in the heart of Detroit. This was an environment where many young people lost themselves to poverty and crime and violence. For a time, young Ben Carson was headed down that same path. Yet through his reliance on faith and family, he turned his life into a sharply different direction. Today, Dr. Carson is one of the world's leading neurosurgeons. He is renowned for his successful efforts to separate conjoined twins and his expertise in controlling brain seizures. He has worked to be a motivating influence on young people. He and his wife Candy have started an organization that offers college scholarships to students across America. The child of Detroit who once saw a grim future became a scholar, a healer, and a leader."
And how did Ben Carson overcome those humble beginnings to achieve international fame? He says he thought big. And he came up with the following acrostic of what it means to think big:
T - Talents/time: Recognize them as gifts
H - Hope for good things and be honest
I - Insight from people and good books
N - Be nice to all people
K - Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living

B - Books: Read them actively
I - In-depth learning skills: Develop them
G - God: Never get too big for Him
I am striving to put into practice those lessons from Ben Carson in my day-to-day living. And if you know of someone who is looking for a role model for his children, I recommend Ben Carson.

If you've enjoyed this story of mine on lessons from Ben Carson, you might also enjoy other stories I wrote on the lessons from Ronald Reagan and from Colin Powell and from Bill Clinton. Just click on those links in blue to jump straight into the stories.


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