Thought for the Week – 26.11.18

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”

MALCOLM X (1925-1965)

Malcolm X (1925–1965) was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison, he became a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), changing his birth name Malcolm Little to Malcolm X because, he later wrote, Little was the name that “the white slavemaster … had imposed upon [his] paternal forebears”. After his parole in 1952, he quickly rose to become one of the organisation’s most influential leaders, serving as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote proudly of some of the social achievements the Nation made while he was a member, particularly its free drug rehabilitation program. The Nation promoted black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans, and rejected the civil rights movement for its emphasis on integration.

By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he also became known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. He repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organisation of Afro-American Unity. He continued to emphasise Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defence.

On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam.

Thought for the Week – 19.11.18

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin FRS FRSE (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, free-mason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organisations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia’s first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was pivotal in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, “In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.” To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard’s Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders”. After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of British policies.

He pioneered and was first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organised and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France.

He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. During the revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the 1750s, he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His colourful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honoured more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references.

Thought for the Week 12.11.18

“The best way out is always through”

ROBERT FROST (1874-1963)

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.

Frost was honoured frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution.” He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont.

 

Thought for the Week – 05.11.18

“It’s not the mountain ahead that wears you out, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe”

ROBERT W. SERVICE (1874-1958)

Born in Lancashire, England to a bank cashier and an heiress, poet Robert William Service moved to Scotland at the age of five, living with his grandfather and three aunts until his parents moved to Glasgow four years later and the family reunited. He wrote his first poem on his sixth birthday, and was educated at some of the best schools in Scotland, where his interest in poetry grew alongside a desire for travel and adventure.

In his youth, he worked in a shipping office and a bank, and briefly studied literature at the University of Glasgow. Inspired by Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson, Service sailed to western Canada in 1894 to become a cowboy in the Yukon Wilderness. He worked on a ranch and as a bank teller in Vancouver Island six years after the Gold Rush, gleaning material that would inform his poetry for years to come and earn him his reputation as “Bard of the Yukon.” Service traveled widely throughout his life—to Hollywood, Cuba, Alberta, Paris, Louisiana, and elsewhere—and his travels continued to fuel his writing.

A prolific writer and poet, Service published numerous collections of poetry during his lifetime, including Songs of a Sourdough or Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses (1907), which went into ten printings its first year, Ballad of a Cheechako (1909) and Ballads of a Bohemian (1921), as well as two autobiographies and six novels. Several of his novels were made into films, and he also appeared as an actor in The Spoilers, a 1942 film with Marlene Dietrich.

A casual usage of what would today be considered ethnic slurs complicates contemporary readings of his work, though his epic, rhymed, often humorous poems about the West’s wilderness, Yukon gold miners, and World War I show the narrative mastery, appetite for adventure, and eye for detail that enabled him to bridge the spheres of popular and literary audiences.

He was a correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, and served in World War I as an ambulance driver in France. After the war, Service married Germaine Bougeoin and they resided mainly in the south of France until his death.

Service’s two-room cabin in the Yukon, which he lived in from November 1909 until June 1912 while writing his Gold Rush novel The Trail of Ninety-Eight (1911) and his poetry collection Rhymes of a Rolling Stone (1913), is maintained as a historic site for visitors.

 

Thought for the Week – 29.10.18

“Your attitude, not your aptitude will determine your altitude”

ZIG ZIGLAR (1926-2012)

Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar was an American author, salesman and motivational speaker. “Zig” Ziglar was born in Coffee County in southeastern Alabama, to John Silas Ziglar and Lila Wescott Ziglar. He was the tenth of 12 children.

In 1931, when Ziglar was five years old, his father took a management position at a Mississippi farm, and his family moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he spent most of his early childhood. The next year, his father died of a stroke, and his younger sister died two days later.

Between 1943 and 1945, he participated in the Navy V-12 Navy College Training Program at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

With Richard “Dick” Gardner and Hal Krause, Ziglar was a charter member in the establishment of American Salesmasters in 1963. The company’s objective was to raise the image of salespeople in America by providing seminars. They began with cities across the Midwest (Memphis, Atlanta, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, etc), featuring speakers like Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale, Ken McFarland, Cavett Robert, Bill Gove, Maxwell Maltz, Red Motley and many more. They booked an auditorium, put together a slate of speakers and contacted local businesses to sell tickets. Audiences included insurance agents, car salesmen, financial advisers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and curiosity seekers.

Ziglar went on to speak extensively for audiences of the National Association of Sales Education (NASE), founded by Dick Gardner in 1965, and also became a major sales trainer for Mary Kay Cosmetics. In 1968, he became a vice president and training director for the Automotive Performance company and moved to Dallas, Texas. The company went bankrupt two years later. Subsequently, Ziglar spoke extensively at seminars for Peter Lowe, of Get Motivated, and eventually signed an exclusive agreement to support Peter Lowe events.

In addition to speaking, Ziglar wrote over 30 books. His first book, See You At The Top, was rejected 39 times before it was published in 1975. It is still in print today.

In 2007, a fall down a flight of stairs left him with short-term memory problems. Nonetheless, Ziglar continued taking part in motivational seminars until he retired in 2010.