This weekend’s events in Virginia left me speechless.
Watching the hatred, the racism, the bigotry unfold was painful.
Though there has been much progress, there is still much work to do. We must never stop fighting for what’s right. And, though I’m at a loss for words, we cannot remain silent in the face of evil.
So, I thought to share a few quotes on racism, bigotry, and intolerance in the hopes that it would inspire us all to reflect and move forward. I still believe the best days are ahead, that Martin Luther King’s dream will indeed be a reality, and that our commonalities will prevail over our differences. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were tragically injured and killed during the shameful events in Charlottesville.
“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.” –Albert Einstein
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” –Nelson Mandela
“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.” –Abraham Joshua Heschel
Not too long ago, I was watching a high school tennis match. “I suck!” exclaimed this tennis player after each miss. How does that help? Instead, it reinforced negative thoughts. Guess what? What you say defines your future.
“What you say defines your future.” -Skip Prichard
When it was in the theatres, I watched the extraordinary movie Lincoln. Rarely do I watch a movie a second time, but I’m such an admirer of President Lincoln that I couldn’t wait for its video release. My family watched it last weekend. To me, the acting is so perfect that I feel like I am truly watching Lincoln himself.
There are thousands of articles and books about Lincoln. As I watched the movie, I noted some of his attributes for achieving his goals. The movie was primarily focused on Lincoln’s goal to pass the Thirteenth Amendment. Throughout the fight in the House of Representatives, Lincoln was:
1. Committed. He was willing to risk his reputation to do what was right.
2. Clever. How he won votes in the House of Representatives is part of the story that intrigues me.
3. Calm. In the midst of incomprehensible stress, Abraham Lincoln was calm. He would tell a story, a joke, or quietly sit by himself.
4. Compromising. He didn’t compromise his values, but he understood the political necessities and how to negotiate in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
Like many, I have always been fascinated with all things Lincoln. Studying great historical figures like Lincoln, who endured and persevered through unbelievably tough circumstances, can teach more about leadership and character than almost any modern lesson.
Abraham Lincoln, notoriously quiet about himself, would undoubtedly be amazed at the number of books written about him. Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington DC now has a spiral staircase piled three stories high with over 6,800 books written about his life. Thousands more books could also be added, and every year many more are published.
With all of the great books already available about Lincoln, it’s easy to wonder whether any more are needed. My good friend Stephen Mansfield has just written an extraordinary book, proving that it’s still possible to add to our understanding of the 16th president. Though I’ve likely read over fifty books about Lincoln, I’m a novice on his life. Stephen’s Lincoln’s Battle With God filled in missing pieces for me, added perspective, and provided more color.
In studying Abraham Lincoln’s life, what characteristics made him such a powerful leader? Tell me more about his character.
I suggest in Lincoln’s Battle with God that there were three forces that profoundly shaped his leadership but are rarely discussed.
First, his depression. Lincoln battled depression all his life. He neared suicide more than once. He was haunted by the deaths of loved ones. He had to fight through it, had to reach for the meaningful facets of life so he could endure. This inner struggle gave him compassion, wisdom and an outsider’s perspective—all of which fed his leadership gifts.