A friend has sent me the following text, which is the part of a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to the headmaster of the school where Lincoln’s son was studying. (In this letter Abraham Lincoln is requesting / guiding the headmaster what to teach to his son in the school.) The friend has asked for my comments.
The letter of Abraham Lincoln
“HE WILL HAVE TO LEARN, I know that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader…….Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know; but teach him, if you can that a dollar earned is of far more value than five found…teach him to learn to lose…and also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the secret of quite laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the earliest to lick……Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books…but also give him quite some time to ponder the external mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on the green hillside.
In school, teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat…Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tell him they are wrong…Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough. 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 teach him to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take on the good that comes through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad…there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness…..teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob…and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right.
Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be patient…., let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.”
It appears to me that following additional teachings can be incorporated in this letter:
“Teach him that there are no noble, ignoble, courageous or coward people but only deeds, actions & effects;
Teach him to work for the love of it not for ambition of completion and while on it, enjoy its every moment;
Teach him to do things he likes but also respect what others do not like for ‘I’ separated from ‘YOU’ is never the ‘WE’ which lives and share the air, water, nourishment, pleasure, pain, illusions alike in amidst;
Teach him that the possessions are as illusory as thought and dreams as also temporary like moonshine even if these seem regular with its periodic presence;
Teach him to respect his body for that is him, and dignify it with care of nourishment and caution of observation but avoiding the temptation to improve upon this perfect monument;
Teach him that education is not imparted but received and is “The Light” that can not be stored for sharing it alone keeps it alive;
Teach him that knowledge once gain may render one intelligent but ability to let go the knowledge is the wisdom.”