Greatness, they say, results when opportunity meets preparation. In Lincoln’s case the preparation had been thorough, but out of the line of sight of virtually the entire nation.
In fact, with the advent of this gangly, poorly-dressed country boy as President of the United States [was his tie EVER straight or his hair EVER combed?] everyone in the country with half a brain agreed with the British ambassador Lord Russell’s assessment in the spring of 1861: Lincoln was “ignorant of everything except Illinois village politics.”
They didn’t know it then, but Lord Russell’s assessment was about as wrong as wrong could be for Lincoln had not only what his age needed but ours as well: a peerless sense of values, a distinctively steely self-discipline, political acumen, boundless personal courage, an abiding concern for others, a zen-like serenity and a bubbily, child-like sense of humor.
And you and me? Like Lincoln’s contemporaries
• we today are a sad, silly people;
• we are like sheep easily entangled in dense constricting undergrowth;
• we can, without the least provocation, be petty, short-sighted, greedy, full of rancor;
• we give pride of place to preconceptions the way others worship on Sundays;
• we confront real problems that cry out for solutions yet can’t seem to muster up anything like a creative thought;
• we listen to news sources not for information but for ammunition;
• since we’ve settled for bumper sticker political discourse we take very little time figuring out whether the other guy is one of the good guys or not, so
• when confronted with “there’s a little good in the worst of us, a little bad in the best of us” we respond, “Huh?”
In short, we are a rudderless people cast adrift on a trackless sea and we need a pole star that never varies. Lincoln is that pole star that never varies.
I suggest reading “Lincoln 365,” but slowly. Do it at night just before going to sleep, and just read today’s entry. And in 365 days Lincoln - and subliminal advertising - will have worked his magic: we’ll be a little more like him then than we are now: more inclined to demand from our politicians less posturing about problems and more grappling with problems.
Posterity demands no less.
[PS, if you can’t get Lincoln 365, get on to me [Arnold@lucidspeaker.com, or 916-213-7463] and I’ll get a copy to you.]