Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

I have been marking the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth by reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's fine book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln." What an interesting read and a wonderful window into the character and savvy of our 16th president. It is also a fascinating study on the nature of leadership. Since I do most of my leisure reading at bedtime, I have been losing some serious sleep, just listening to Lincoln and wondering how history might read today, had this remarkable man not lived and served as he did.

Another thought has crossed my mind this week. What does a person have to contribute to life in this world in order to be remembered and honored 200 years later? What makes one life worthy of celebration after two centuries? What do you think? Liberate the oppressed? Lead in a crisis? Save a nation? Speak noble and profound words? Die a martyr's death for a worthy cause? Certainly it is no small thing to be so honored.

And, just to put it all in perspective, what about two millenia, what about being honored and remembered and followed two thousand years later? That takes more than noble ideals and wise words, more than setting people free, even more than dying a sacrificial death. You pretty much have to walk out of your own tomb. Yep. That would do it, wouldn't it?

No comments: