Rise To Greatness Update #4

I would like my final update to be about the project and the novel’s effect on me. This project allowed me the freedom to pick a topic that I would truly enjoy researching, but it also forced me to reflect on my reading. Having the responsibility of this blog on my shoulders as I read made me read deeper into the book. Also, I was able to compare myself to Lincoln through my reflecting which gave me more connections to the book.

The project was accompanied by a presentation to the class. This task was nerve-racking at first, but then I saw it as a challenge. By this point in high school, everyone who appreciates history has chosen to continue it, and the people who don’t enjoy history have stopped taking it. I didn’t want to present the year 1862 month by month like an APUSH power point. So instead, in an effort to not be boring, I focused my presentation on Lincolns leadership traits. I tried to pack my presentation with engaging stories and interesting fact, I even asked them to take a leadership quiz. Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 12.46.20 PM.pngThe quiz classified you as a type of leader; the most common results were an idealist, stewards, and pragmatist. The experience gave me, and hopefully my classmates, a chance to learn our leadership skills and picture our leadership style if we were president throughout the year 1862.

This novel gave me great insight into what being a president of the United States is like. Lincoln had so much to balance, so much to consider, and so much to carry. I am now thinking about going to college and about all the pressure I have on me for my upcoming year. I want to make my parent’s sacrifices worthwhile, be a skilled collegiate athlete, be a successful student, and make myself proud. Of course, I am scared of failure. But failure is part of life; I will fail, and I will have to move on. Just as Abraham Lincoln did, I will make the best decision I can at the time and move forward. I will never forget Lincolns statement: “I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.” 1-31_lg-1.jpgThis quote reminds me to keep moving forward while doing the best I can every day. I am so glad to have read this book; I will defiantly take these lessons to college.  Unknown-15.jpeg

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Rise to Greatness Update #3

As Spring concludes and Summer begins, Lincoln is juggling a million balls, each one with enough weight to crush him and the country if he drops it. My most recent blog post looked into Lincoln’s astounding persistence and care. However, this week’s reading has struck a deeper nerve in me. My focal point for this book has been Lincoln’s leadership skills (boldness, calmness, persistence, resilience, and vision), but as I watch Lincoln go through the year 1862, it reminds me of a personal goal for my social life.
The country is lush with vegetation and problems at this point. The number of casualties climbs to an all-time high with the battle of Shiloh and the taking of New Orleans. Lincoln is surrounded by people hungry for power, regardless of the consequences, and people too stubborn to listen or consider an alternative. One of Lincoln’s generals, for example, does not move to attack the Confederates and is dismissive of Lincoln’s suggestions. This behavior out of McClellan, the General, is why Lincoln chooses Grant to replace McClellan; Lincoln needs a strong general with the “grit of a bulldog.” Also, the abolitionists are hungry for emancipation, but Lincoln must prioritize his vision of keeping the Union together and wait for the proper bill to cross his desk. If he responds too hastily, then the nation would be split permanently, but if he acts too slowly, the abolitionist will ruin him. So, Lincoln decides to support gradual emancipation for the time being.
Lincoln’s ability to multitask, and consequently his resilience, became extremely noticeable to me this week. He juggles avid abolitionists, obnoxious rebels, disloyal unionists, and distressed family members. To be successful, Lincoln has to be resilient and commit to his vision. He can not focus on the downside too long because new problems arise. Considering his depression, this was hard for Lincoln.
A lot of scrutinies accompany the office of president. Lincoln’s time in office was no exception, and neither was any president before or any president after. However, people should judge presidents knowing they do not have all the information. Lincoln receives backlash from all groups because he was purposely walking the middle path. But the people criticizing him didn’t understand that Mary, his wife, was distressed and mentally unstable, or that Willie, his twelve-year-old son, died earlier this year. These aspects of Lincoln’s life weighed on him during this difficult year, and he had to be resilient. Presidents are people too, and they deserve a little empathy.
This idea applies to everyone, not just presidents. Judging people is natural. We all do it whether we mean to do so or not. However, “Rise to Greatness” has reinforced how important it is for me not to judge harshly or closemindedly. Instead, I make assessments of people with the information I have, knowing that I only understand what they tell me. This thought process helps me stay open-minded and positive as I become an adult; I invite you to try it with me. It is natural to make conclusions about people, and it is sometimes necessary to do so, but I want to make my opinions with an open mind. I am not sure what it’s like to walk in Abraham Lincoln’s size 14 shoes, and I will continue to consider that as I read Rise to Greatness.

Rise to Greatness Update #2

As I read into March, Lincoln, and the Civil War trudge on.  The president is dragging the Union through the Civil War, coxing movement out of his generals. A task this delicate requires a gentle leader. My overarching question for reading this book is to learn more about Lincoln’s leadership skill, so this situation intrigued me; throughout the week I have gotten a front row seat to a persistent president individualizing his approaches to ensure success.

While the south gains momentum, the Union military is extremely hesitant to move, so Lincoln needs to motivate his generals. The challenge for the president is getting the military leaders, who have little respect for Lincoln as a commander and chief, to make the strategic moves Lincoln wants. The truth is that Lincoln did not go to West Point like the generals, his military education began when he felt ill-equipped to be the military’s commander and chief. Lincoln saw that he lacked knowledge in military strategy, so he delegated to his generals, but then when his generals stopped communicating with him, he began to educate himself. During March, he made use of his insomnia and studied night after night, teaching himself how to be a general. His training is a massive testament to Lincoln’s persistence as a person. He saw areas for himself to improve and he got to work.

The next task was getting the armies to move. If more time passed and no Union action was taken, the Rebels would be seen as a separate country by foreign leaders, which would diminish the union. Time was of the essence. Lincoln crafted a letter for each general that was individualized to inspire movement. To one general, he literally made a compliment sandwich telegraph (meaning he gave him a compliment, a suggestion, and another compliment to boost his confidence). The craftsmanship Lincoln displays here shows thoughtfulness and strategy; he handled a vital but delicate gingerly.

Likewise, the president handled the abolitionist with care during the spring. A firm anti-slavery man himself, Lincoln overcomes his personal beliefs and makes the best move for the country. With abolitionists yelling in his ear to abolish slavery, Lincoln knew that a drastic step would crack the nation beyond repair. So, he crafted a gradual anti-slavery plan for the state of Delaware; this gave the country a small, bold dose of abolition.

This weekend I happened to hike Kennesaw Mountain, the cite of one of the union-confederate battles. I walked the same road that the Union troops did when they too climbed the mountain. The hike for my friend and me was simple, but for an army of men with wagons, poor shoes, and loads of artillery I can imagine it was quite a trek. Standing on top of the mountain on that sunny Saturday morning allowed me to truly understand the general’s hesitation to make the trek, respect the work Lincoln did to inspire movement and be grateful for the beautiful free land of our country.

 

Rise to Greatness Update #1

Just like 51e589bts6L._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgmy father, I am a sucker for a good history story. The founding fathers and our countries milestones have always spiked my interest. So, for my twelfth-grade bibliography project I chose to read Rise to Greatness, by David Von Drehle. The biography describes one of the most critical years in American history, 1862, with a focus on Abraham Lincoln. During this integral year, the Civil War was consuming the United States but the leader, Abraham Lincoln, was “rising to greatness.” Another reason I chose to read Von Drehle’s book was the enticing structure of the novel; there are 13 chapters, one for New Year’s Day, to set the scene for the year, and then one for each month of Lincoln’s year.

To be honest with you, I am not an avid reader. Because I am not the fastest or the most skilled, reading is not the most attractive thing to me. However, I do love learning about extraordinary leaders and people; putting myself in their shoes interests and inspires me. Lincoln was most definitely an extraordinary leader, so Rise to Greatness made this English assignment exciting. My intention with this book is to learn about Lincoln’s leadership skills: how he was persistent, calm, bold, resilient, and successful.

After chapter one, I was hooked. Surrounded by a bustling Washington DC, I too had the Civil War buzzing in my ear. Chapter one, titled “New Year’s Day”, gives background on Lincoln’s life. Mary, his wife, had a very inconstant character because of the pressures of her stressful life and year. Also, Lincoln’s military generals were not being professional or helpful to him. This interested me because these are people that Abraham Lincoln chose to surround himself with, so I found it intriguing that they were giving him problems. However, upon more reflection, I am seeing that Lincoln could not foresee the problems that came with these people, he just made the best decision he could at the time and is just working with the outcomes now. I can learn a lot from this as a “leader in training” in making clear decisions. In chapter two, “January”, this philosophy becomes even more apparent with Lincoln’s decisions. Throughout the month, the Civil War keeps heating up and there is so much compressed animosity in the country, this made all of Lincolns decisions even more important. It becomes apparent that Lincoln was a cautious man that knew how to make small, but bold, moves. He made the best decisions he could, with all the information he could find, and then he moved on.

Throughout January and February, some of Lincolns biggest struggles are getting his army to move and balancing the abolitionists. Lincoln was a persistent leader with his uncooperative allies and enemies. He crafted letters that inspired movement without provoking a fight. His calm demeanor hid his stress and depression, and his resilience let him make unbiased decisions. Well renowned leaders typically have strong vision, and Lincoln was no exception. His goal was to bring the union back together, and I don’t think any other leader could have done it. Lincoln’s balance of boldness and caution, seriousness and humor, and persistence and honesty kept him level headed. These first few chapters have given me a great overview into Lincoln as a leader and am excited to dive further into the year 1863.

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

Lies are a consistent part of human interaction. People fib in conversations, on the news, and on paper; lies can be found in Facebook bios, Instagram pictures, and in everyday statements. Because dishonesty is so prevalent, it makes me wonder, is it sometimes ok to lie?

What does the word “ok” mean in this sense?  In this sense, the term OK means that it would be socially acceptable to lie. It means that other people would agree with your decision and reasoning to lie. In other words, it is reasonable/acceptable.

I think that the truth is always the most beneficial option for everybody. When people know the truth at the beginning, rather than after a lie is revealed, the person has more time to adjust and prepare to the consequences of the truth. Honesty gives one the largest opportunity for success because one doesn’t have to untangle the lies. In addition, trust is a result of honesty. When someone has the courage to reveal a difficult truth, the other person subconsciously feels respect and trust towards their counterpart. Also, when a person has been deceived, they normally wish they had been told the truth in the beginning. In other words: the dishonesty hurt more than the action.Unknown-3.jpeg

On the contrary, a strategic lie that has a good end intention is more “ok” then a cover-up lie. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet lies strategically in order to put himself in a position to gain knowledge. Because Hamlet lies to the bad guy, the murderer of his father, is his lie acceptable? Though I see his reasoning I disagree with Hamlet’s decision. Hamlets manipulation might cause his close friends pain because they want to know the true Hamlet rather than his false persona. If I were Hamlet I would only lie to my enemies and not lie to my friends and benefactors.

When the truth could cause harm, I see how a lie would seem like the best option. I would classify this as a cover-up lie. Accordingly, people enter a grey area when the truth would hurt someone. There’s no right or wrong answer, the dilemma becomes individualized. Why would you want to be rude or hurtful to a person? Why would you tell the harmful truth? But why would you want to let your companion live in the dark? I say that even when it could hurt, one should tell the truth… and be as helpful as possible in solving the problem.

 

Let Trust Grow and Love Burn

Trust plants its roots in your gut, climbs up through your heart, and sprouts leaves in your brain. Grown in the soul, trust is an integral part of everyone’s life; it allows for goals and inspires persistence. In David Auburn’s play Proof, Catherine, a mathematician, has to trust her math abilities when her father is sick because she needs to drop-out of school, take care of him, and keep her work going (without her instructors). Her work produces an earth-shattering proof that will rock the math “boat” forever. Her findings lead to another prime example of the importance of trust: Catherine must believe in her accuracy and her judgment of people to show the proof to her new “boyfriend,” Hal. By showing Hal her proof, Catherine trusted her gut’s advice: trust someone with your important secret.  Catherine’s proof turned out to be a success and a relationship-saving tool for Hal and Catherine later in the play. Through internal trust, individuals can have enough confidence to dream a goal, craft a plan, and start working. With Catherine’s belief in herself, she took a risk and improved her world dramatically, but without trust growing inside, making positive progress on life may seem impossible.Unknown

Trust is vital to life but it is second to one noun: love. Loving yourself can change your own life, and spreading the love can change someone else’s life. Self-loathing and competition have made self-loving people rare, or even on the verge of extinction. If trust is a plant, then love is a fire that burns in your heart, shines through your gut, and glows into your brain. By loving yourself through your failures, successes, weaknesses, and strengths, one gains the ability to move mountains. Self-doubt and self-deprecation put people on a leash; they can stay in their comfort zone and refuse advancement out of fear of failure. The remedy to this comfort zone lies in loving yourself: accepting your flaws, embracing them, and taking a risk. Embracing yourself, not only improves your own moral, but the love often escapes from you and into others, brightening their mood as well. The world is desperate for this contagious type of love. The Black Eyed Peas said it best in 2009 with their song, “Where is the love?” The group describes how much hate is in the world and then they sing, “you gotta have love just to set it straight, take control of your mind and meditate, let the soul gravitate to the love, ya’ll.”  The world is craving love, so let love burn.

October is for Frankenstien

The novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, reveals many applicable themes; the most prevalent theme illustrates human blindness to the consequences of their own actions. Shelley explores the individual’s lack of foresight in Dr. Frankenstein’s personal story,
which further connects the theme with today’s common dilemmas and the world’s dramatic issues. The monster, sprouts from the doctor innocently and passionately advancing in his science. However, the symbiotic relationship, where Frankenstein gains knowledge and the creature gains life, grows “a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned [turns] into bitter, and loathing despair” (Shelley 177). However, the doctor is too focused on his short-term scientific goals to play the “long game” with regard to humanity and his own wellness.

Accordingly, a connection to daily life would be a dog owner choosing to feed his or her dog the human food from the dinner table. Seeming like an innocent task at the time, the owner might never foresee that he or she now owns an animal that now knows how to beg. The dog’s new knowledge will likely evolve into an uncontrollable nuisance. Shelley’s theme can connect on a larger, worldly, scale as well as a small daily scale. The political sphere contains many politicians making decisions; these people analyze their dilemmas with imagination and strategy trying to avoid making the same mistake as Dr. Frankenstein, creating something monstrous. Exemplifying a lack of thoroughness, President Donald Trump often plays the short game Unknownwith his quick, blunt, and offensive tweets. The President continues to be so emotional that he cannot take a moment and imagine the consequences of his actions, thus resembling Dr. Frankenstein. In early October, President Trump tweeted, “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail” (Trump, Oct 1, 2017, 3:01 pm). Offending everyone who supports those renowned leaders, the tweet radiates an emotional and impulsive tone; many citizens would like to see evidence of more thought behind the bold statement. Perhaps the President could: read Frankenstein, learn from the mistakes of the doctor, stop his impulsive actions, and imagine further into the future. Otherwise, he likely creates more political enemies or war.

Literature, and the analysis of it, allows people to compare character’s different circumstances and reactions; thus, an observer can use the two stories, and their corresponding successes, to create their own opinion or goals. The novel Frankenstein’s theme of failing to imagine the consequences of actions encourages more thoughtfulness from individuals. In turn, those individuals have the opportunity to limit hurtful and tragic consequences, thus creating a more forgiving society.