Tuesday, August 09, 2011
They say that Abraham Lincoln was often ridiculed about his physical appearance. So, often, in fact that he refused to ever look in a mirror for more than a few seconds. Throughout his political career his opponents used Lincolnís physical stature as a campaign tool against him. One author went to the point when he described Lincoln as saying ďthere was no physical attribute about him, at all, that was appealing.Ē I read last night that Lincoln confided in his wife that those verbal barbs stung and hurt him, even when he used his famous humor to deflect them.
Later in life as president of the United States Lincoln became frustrated with a number of his commanders during the Civil War. He wrote scathing letters to them and then promptly slid them in his desk drawer, never to be mailed. When he removed an officer from command he did it privately, professionally and always found some facet of the manís performance to praise, despite the fact the commander had not performed up to speed at all times.
Lincoln was criticized in the papers and in the halls of Congress for being too easy or soft on people. He was lambasted for letting his opponents off the hook without tearing them down. Lincoln as we say today ďhad been there, and done that.Ē
I thought about this while I drifted off to sleep last night. I thought about how I felt when people made remarks or comments about my weight or my build. I thought about how much it hurt me to hear those things, how it stung. I thought about how it felt to be on the outside looking in. I thought about Lincoln.
We donít often subscribe those raw human emotions to our historical heroes. It shocked me a bit to read Lincoln was offended by those remarks. But I realized that if he hadnít gone through those hurtful times he never would have grasped an understanding of what other people felt when in the same situation. Itís that part of Lincoln, the kind and wise leader, we always recall, never everything he went through to reach them. Those traits were only fashioned in a furnace of pain.
I donít like it when people say thing about me that are mean or cruel, but maybe, moving forward, like Lincoln Iíll have an understanding of how what I say and do affect other people. I sure hope so.