Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Inspiring Fathers - Nehru and Lincoln

I am reading Jawaharlal Nehru’s Glimpses of World History. Truly, leaders such as him, are scarce to find in the present world. I found Nehru’s keenness to pass on his own values to his daughter, Indira, most touching. Through the letters he wrote to her from the prison, he attempted to impart knowledge to her, while at the same time, sneaking in capsules of character building verses. Narrating historical events from around the world, he tries to mould her character, subtly infusing into her the qualities of legendary heroes who had lived in the past.

At times, he is quite blunt in telling her how she should live her life. I liked this passage, early in the book:

Often we may be in doubt as to what to do. It is no easy matter to decide what is right and what is not. One little test I shall ask you to apply whenever you are in doubt. It may help you. Never do anything in secret or anything that you would wish to hide. For the desire to hide anything means that you are afraid, and fear is a bad thing and unworthy of you. Be brave, and all the rest follows. If you are brave, you will not fear and will not do anything of which you are ashamed.”

This passage is part of Nehru’s letter to Indira on her thirteenth birthday. No wonder, Indira grew up into a daredevil politician and was once hailed as “the only man in her cabinet.”

No less inspiring is former American President Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher…

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 far every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader…

Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know a long time, but teach, if you can, that a dollar earned is of more value then five of found.

Teach him, to learn to lose…And also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach in the secret of quiet laughter.

Teach him, if you can the wonder of books…But also given quiet time wonder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on the green hillside.

In a school teach him, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat…

Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if anyone else tell him they are wrong…

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.

Teach him to listen to all men…But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good one that comes through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tear.

Teach them to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder but never to put a prize tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes the fine steel.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have some sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what can you do… He is such a fine little fellow, my son! Dad

No comments:

Post a Comment