The profile of Abraham Lincoln is quite distinguishable. Shown a silhouette of his profile, nearly every person correctly identified him by name. Lincoln won the election receiving 55% of the popular vote.
Many people are unaware of the President’s stylish appearance. During the campaign in 1860, eleven year old Grace Bedell wrote a letter to Mr. Lincoln suggesting that a beard would improve his appearance. A portion of the letter read, “…you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” History reports that by the time he began his inaugural journey from Illinois to Washington, D.C. by train, he had a full beard.
It would be absurd to suggest that a person heed every idea or recommendation offered by others, but it seems wise to at least consider realistic advice that comes to us. One significant barrier to doing so is personal pride. Asking for assistance or accepting it may be viewed as weakness or inferiority, and pride causes us to sometimes settle for mediocrity rather than employ a better plan that is not of our own ingenuity.
Two people groups who seem to have a weaker voice of influence are the aged and young children. While most cultures honor and respect their elders, we often tend to write people off who are “passed their prime.” Their wisdom is based on experiences that are no longer relevant; our high tech world has surpassed them.
On the other hand, young children do not of the wisdom of vast experience, the knowledge that comes from years of education, and a fully developed mind of reason. As the old idiom proposes, “Children are meant to be seen and not heard.”
Lincoln’s response to the letter included a closing signature with these words, “Your true friend and well-wisher.” At the age of 15, Bedell penned a second letter appealing to President Lincoln’s friendship Lincoln’s for his assistance in gaining a job with the Treasury so that she could financially support her parents.
The initial letter and a young girl’s courage — and insight! — have been the inspiration for a short film, a made-for-television movie, a book, and a statue depicting a meeting between Mr. Lincoln and Grace Bedell. We would do well by rising above our pride and prejudice as we consider our steps in life.
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.