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Archive for September 10th, 2020


Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

–NOT Abraham Lincoln


I was thinking about character this morning and came across the quote above, which has been used on occasion by political organizations in recent times and is usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

Great words and most likely the truth.

But it turns out that the words were actually not from Lincoln but instead were spoken about Lincoln.  The words actually come from my new hero of words, Robert Green Ingersoll, who I briefly profiled in a blog post this past week.

In 1883, at an event in Washington DC, Ingersoll was introducing a speaker who was going to lecture on the late President Lincoln. During his introduction Ingersoll said of Lincoln’s prowess as an orator, comparing Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburgwith that of the speaker, Edward Everett, who followed him and rambled on for a very long time :

“… If you want to know the difference between an orator and a speaker, read the oration of Lincoln at Gettysburg, and then read the speech of Everett at the same place. One came from the heart, the other was born only of the voice. Lincoln’s speech will be remembered forever. Everett’s no man will read. It was like plucked flowers.

After a round of applause, Ingersoll then added:

If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity. It is the glory of Abraham Lincoln that he never abused power only on the side of mercy. [Applause]. He was a perfectly honest man. When he had power, he used it in mercy …”

Ingersoll modified these comments for a later lecture on Lincoln:

“Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test. It is the glory of Lincoln that, having almost absolute power, he never abused it, except on the side of mercy.”

Over the years, Ingersoll’s words were used often in many newspapers and magazines and correctly attributed to him. But as time wore on, his words were condensed down to the form you see at the top with Ingersoll’s name being forgotten, instead replaced by the very man of which he spoke.

As great and lauded as he was, Bob Ingersoll was just destined to be overlooked by history, I guess.

But his observation on character certainly holds true today.

We have a man who holds what is most likely the most powerful position in the world, the president*** of the USA, who has been given ( and has taken) almost absolute power. It has certainly revealed his true character.

And it ain’t pretty.

A multitude of revelations have come out in recent days, all painting him (almost always with his own words) as the soulless, selfish, ugly creature, something that seems so obvious to me and many others by the simple witnessing of his actions. Yet, reading through the reactions of his ardent followers on social media, it is portrayed as some sort of character assassination.

My question is: Can it be character assassination when the character of the person ( I am giving him the benefit of a doubt here, folks) in question is fully revealed as it truly is?

His actions and his words– spoken in his recorded voice— all reveal a character that is lacking any positive attributes. It is a character that shows itself as being small in scale and weak in practice.

It is a character that would let tens of thousands–maybe even hundreds of thousands– of the citizens he was entrusted to protect die, suffer and lose their livelihoods so that he might protect his political and financial aspirations.

He has told us who he is with his own words and he has demonstrated his character day after day for the past four years.

If at this point, you still believe that he has a reverence for or loyalty to this country, a respect for its citizens, or any interests beyond his own, you, my friend, are a fool.

I am going to condense that for you, probably not in a way that would please the great Robert G. Ingersoll:

If you still support this goddamn creep, you’re a fucking idiot.

Apologies to my less profane friends out there but this a time for plain speaking. Just my opinion.

Try to have a good day.

 

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