This past week, I was at a business meeting and on the wall of one of the hallways in the building was a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The quote was:
“I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”
I was quite taken by the quote. We all have our own interpretations of what great quotes mean, and to me this quote meant that I don’t have to win but I must be honest – with
others, and with myself; and, I may not always be successful, but if I live up to the talents that life has provided me, then success is more in that detail than the actual outcome of the endeavor.
Since the quote struck a chord with me, I decided that I wanted to blog about it and its meaning to me. As I researched the quote further, however, I discovered that while often attributed to Lincoln, there is in fact no evidence that Abraham Lincoln ever said this.
I was disappointed. Abraham Lincoln is a hero of mine. When I was a boy, I dreamed that one day I would be President of the United States and Lincoln was my role model (I will also tell you that as an adult watching the embarrassing carnival freak show that is U.S. politics I am DAMNED glad that I am not in politics at all).
Then I had this realization. If it rings true…does it matter that it wasn’t a quote by Abraham Lincoln? Does it diminish the value that the statement had to me? No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter who said the words. It’s if the words have value: to me, to you, to one, to a million.
I laugh at all of us as human beings sometimes. We come to place our athletes, our politicians, and our celebrities on such pedestals that if they were to say, “I had tomato soup for lunch,” the world would spin on its head at what a deep and astute statement that was. We are a funny lot. That was proven to me by my initial disappointment that the quote wasn’t Lincoln’s. I don’t know who made this quote originally, but I thank them for their insight and wisdom.
What else do we do in life that mirrors this type of behavior? We all know that celebrities make great pitchmen (and women) in advertising. They are frequently in the news supporting politicians, or standing up for animal rights, chaining themselves to trees to protect the forest, and on. Why should this person have any more sway over your opinion than you have over your own opinion? Aren’t we supposed to be free thinkers? We’re not always going to be right and succeed, but as the quote so eloquently asks, have you been true? Have you lived up to your light? Only you can decide what your “light” is.
Now let’s set my little rant here aside. Read the quote again. Do you agree? How do you live this quote in your everyday life? If one hundred people read this quote it is reasonable that there are one hundred varying interpretations, but that they all probably fall along the same line. Take your interpretation and apply it to your life.
As always, thank you for reading my Senseless Ramblings. For those of you who have followed my posts in the past, I apologize that I have been away for a while. Life gets busy sometimes. I am hopeful that I will be back more frequently again.