Bowing Out of Politics - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Bowing Out of Politics

This is the front cover-page of Bill Clinton's autobiography, an inspiring tome I loved carrying around when I was at the university in JKUAT. It inspired me to venture into politics but eventually, I have decided to bow out of politics for reasons I will explain in the story of mine below.

As the 2007 Kenya's General Elections were nearing and getting riveting, I was having a conversation with a friend at JKUAT when I remarked, "These politics of Kenya are very tribal." To which the friend agreed, then sagely added, "And very local."

It must have been around then that I set a dream of becoming president of our nation someday. And I have nurtured that dream for the past ten years with an aim of being a different kind of politician that Kenya has never had before. As in, a charismatic and eloquent politician with a national appeal.

I have found myself reading biographies of my models in politics - who are all Americans - as well as listened to their speeches on Youtube. Like I have particularly come to love Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural address and Barack Obama's 2004 US Democratic National Convention keynote speech. Those two speeches are in a word, inspiring.

Finally though, it has dawned on me that the observations my friend and I made ten years ago about Kenya's politics - that they are tribal and local - were right and spot-on. Unlike the United States, Kenya is not a mature democracy. Still, it has a long way to go if the current state of affairs is anything to go by.

So given the immaturity of our politics as well as the high levels of disorder and corruption that are often too much in evidence in our governmental affairs and bearing in mind that I am a good-natured person, I have finally decided to bow out of politics. Expecting me to thrive as a politician in Kenya is both cruel and unrealistic.

I sincerely don't know why I have stuck for over ten years with this ambition of getting into politics. Maybe it's partly because I am always inspired by the school song of Starehe Boys' Centre, my Alma Mater, in which we pledged to serve diligently when our time in government reached.

Or maybe it's because politicians seem to attract all the attention. You see, newspapers' front-page headlines are almost always about politics. And when you eavesdrop on people talking idly in pubs and cafes here in Kenya, their talks are usually about politics, if not football.

Coming to think of it though, I don't have to be a politician to leave a lasting legacy. History is replete with heroes who have made contribution in various fields of endeavour other than politics. William Shakespeare in literature. Albert Einstein in Physics. Alexander Fleming in Medicine. George F. Handel in music. Charles Lindbergh in aviation. Henry Ford in entrepreneurship. Isaac Newton in Mathematics. I could go on and on to list more examples but I beg to stop there in the interest of time.

So I really don't need to get into politics to attain wealth and honour. See?

But just because I have bowed out of politics doesn't mean I will become disinterested in the affairs of my Motherland. I will always wish for peace and stability to prevail in Kenya so that I don't get displaced from my beloved home-town of Kiserian as a result of tribal violence or civil war. And I have vowed that should Kenya ever get a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama, I will support his election, morally and financially.

You may ask - now that I have finally bowed out of politics, what career will I pursue? Well, I will tell you in my next story, God-willing. So stay tuned to this lovely website of mine.


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Power of Thoughts

I had intended this story to have more words of my own than it already has but somehow, words have failed me. So without further ado, let me share with you the following twenty five quotes on the power of thoughts:
  1. "As a man thinketh, so is he," the Bible.
  2. "All (yes, all) that we are is the result of what we have thought," Buddha.
  3. "Our life is what our thoughts make it," Marcus Aurelius.
  4. "Belief (confident thought) creates the actual fact," William James.
  5. "Thought means life, since those who do not think do not live in any high or real sense. Thinking makes the man," Amos Bronson Alcott.
  6. "Thought engenders thought... the more you think, the better you will express yourself," George Sala.
  7. "Thoughts rule the world," Emerson.
  8. "Secret study, silent thought, is the mightiest agent in human affairs. What a man does outwardly is but the expression and completion of his inward thought," William Ellery Channing.
  9. "The men of action are, after all, only the unconscious instruments of the men of thought," Henrich Heine.
  10. "There is not thought in any mind, but it quickly tends to convert itself into a power," Emerson.
  11. "The ideas and images (thoughts) in men's minds are the invisible powers that constantly govern them," Jonathan Edwards.
  12. "Think success, visualize success, and you will set in motion the power force of the realizable wish. When the mental picture (thought) or attitude is strongly held, it actually seems to control conditions and circumstances," Norman Vincent Peale.
  13. "Success or failure in business is caused more by mental (thought) attitudes than by mental capacities," Dr. Walter Scott.
  14. "Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes," Disraeli.
  15. "It is the habitual thought which frames itself into our life. Our confidential friends have not so much to do in shaping our lives as thoughts have which we harbour," John William Teal.
  16. "Thinking, not growth, makes manhood," Isaac Taylor.
  17. "Man, by thinking only becomes truly man. Take away thought from man's life, and what remains?" Johann Pestalozzi.
  18. "Learning without thought is labour lost," Confucius.
  19. "No accomplishment, no assistance, no training, can compensate for lack of belief (confident thought)," Emerson.
  20. "Whether you think you can or think you can't - you are right," Henry Ford.
  21. "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts," Marcus Antoninus.
  22. "Garner up pleasant thoughts in your mind, for pleasant thoughts make pleasant lives," Bishop John Williams.
  23. "Good thoughts are blessed guests and should be heartily welcomed," Charles Hadden Spurgeon.
  24. "Nothing is comparable to the pleasure of an active and prevailing thought," Robert South.
  25. "The pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts, and the greatest art in life is to have as many of them as possible," John Foster. [1]
The above quotes have inspired me to continue working on the quality of my thoughts as a way of changing my life to make it more healthful and prosperous. I hope you have been inspired as well. Have you?

[1] I have extracted these enlightening quotes from page i to v of Thought to Build On by M. R. Kopmeyer, published in the United States in 2009 by UBSPD®.


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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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