A Monday Minute with Honest Abe
On this President’s Day, just a story about one whom many consider the best President this country has ever had.
At the age of 24, Abraham Lincoln served as the postmaster of New Salem, Illinois, for which he was paid an annual salary of $55.70. Even then, twenty-four years before he would enter the White House, the backwoods rail-splitter was showing the type of character that earned him the nickname of “Honest Abe.”
The New Salem Post Office was closed in 1836, but it was several years before an agent arrived from Washington to settle accounts with ex-postmaster Lincoln, now a struggling lawyer and not doing very well. The agent informed Lincoln that according to his records $17.00 was due the government. Abe crossed the room, opened an old trunk and took out a yellowed cotton sack bound with string. Untying the bag, he shook out the contents, and there was exactly $17.00 “Honest Abe” had been holding it untouched, in safekeeping for all these years.
“I never use any man’s money but my own,” said Abraham Lincoln.
“Honest Abe,” a real person? Or a myth to teach us values of character worth emulating? Does it matter? Do you have to be presidential material to be a person of integrity? (And what do our present politicians live out as elected leaders of our country?)
More importantly, what are the true values that we want to live in out in our daily lives as educators, staff, Marists, parents, friends, human beings? As Christian women and men? It’s got to be more than “cash-register, down-to–the-last-penny honesty,” although that might be a good start…
This week I’d pray that we look to the great men and women of our past and present, to remember and imitate the types of people we need to be for our world today. Take a moment on this President’s Day, to consider qualities like compassion, concern, conscientiousness, courage, faith, generosity, honesty and/or humility among others. Then choose to make it a part of who you are. Finally, ask our good and gracious God to help you practice it, at least in the month of “Presidents.” God bless. Bless God.
This Monday Minute is from Br. Brice Byczynski, FMS