Thoughts From A Martial Arts President
Above is among my very favorite quotes from any American President, and also to me among the best utterances ever on the matter of spirituality. No surprise, then, that it would come from a martial artist.
Yes, before Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President and the Great Emancipator, he was renowned for his skills as a fighter. His most famous fight occurred shortly after he moved to the town of New Salem, Illinois, a town often plagued by a rowdy gang of drunks and brawlers. When the Clary Grove Boys, as these punks called themselves, tried to push the new guy around, Abe challenged their leader to a wrestling match. As a crowd of people gathered around, many of them putting bets on the outcome, Abe by all accounts put a whupping on the other man and by doing so earned the respect of the entire gang, who he later convinced to chill out.
But enough of Lincoln’s credentials as a skilled fighter. He was also, as the greatest warriors are, a man given to a lot of thought about character and our duties as inhabitants of this planet. More simply put, he was a very spiritual man, although one who on many occasions professed to not find any comfort in organized religion.
What I love about the quote is that it cuts through all the many differences various religions have found with each other – differences that have throughout civilization led to hate and hurt – and focuses on what these creeds have in common. Strip away all the things that make one spiritual doctrine different from another and you will across the board be left with one simple command: be good to each other.