Abraham Lincoln was a profound leader as the president of the USA. He overcame many personal difficulties in his path towards the presidency. He was not only a public figure but a man capable of deep thoughts and insights; he was a man of substance. What follows is a poem he wrote when his son started school:
TREAT HIM GENTLY
World, take my son by the hand-he starts school today.
It’s all going to be strange and new for a while and I
Wish you’d sort of treat him gently.
You see, up to now he has been king of the roost.
He’s been the boss of the backyard.
I have always been around to repair his wounds and
I have always been handy to soothe his feelings.
But now— things are going to be different.
This morning he is going to walk down the front steps,
Wave his hand and start a great adventure
That will probably include wars and tragedy and sorrow.
To live in this world will require faith and love and courage.
So, world I wish you would sort of take him by his
Young hand and teach him the things he will have to know.
Teach him — but gently if you can.
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just,
That all men are not true.
Teach him that for every scoundrel there is a hero;
That for every crooked politician there is a dedicated
leader, that for every enemy there is a friend
Let him learn that the bullies are the easiest people to lick.
Teach him the wonder of books. Give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mysteries of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill.
Teach him that it is far more honourable
to fail than to cheat. Teach him
to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone
tells him they are wrong.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd
When everyone is getting on the bandwagon.
Teach him to listen to all men, but to filter all
he hears on a screen of truth and to take only
the good that comes through.
Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest
bidder but never to put a tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears on a howling mob…
And to stand and fight if he thinks he is right.
Teach him gently world, but don’t coddle him,
Because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
This is a big order, world, but see what you can do.
He’s such a nice little fellow…