“You can’t help the poor by destroying the rich. You can’t strengthen the weak weakening the strong. You can’t achieve prosperity by discouraging savings. You can’t lift the employee by destroying those who hire him. You can’t promote man’s fraternity by inciting the hate of classes. You can’t form character and value by eliminating the initiative and independence of people. You can’t help people permanently by doing for them what they can and must do for themselves. “
— Abraham Lincoln.
I saw this quote on FaceBook, so naturally I decided to check it out. We want to believe it. It sounds so good, and just like something Abraham Lincoln might have said. President Ronald Reagan used the quote in his speech to the Republican National Convention in Houston.
However, none of that makes it true. The man who actually penned these immortalized words, attributed to Lincoln, was an ex-clergyman from Erie, Pennsylvania, by the name of William J. H. Boetcker. Boetcker left the church to take a more lucrative position as labor relations advisor for employers. He wrote a small booklet titled “Inside Maxims, Gold Nuggets Taken From the Boetcker Lectures.”
One of these nuggets was:
We cannot strengthen the weak
By weakening the strong.
We cannot help the Poor
By kicking the Rich.
After a while, Boetcker expanded the list to “The Industrial Decalogue: Ten Don’ts”. In this work are points 2,4,5, and 10 which Reagan attributes to Abraham Lincoln.
So… here’s the thing.
As a speaker, teacher, it is imperative that I continue to “fact check” what I teach and follow every attribution to its source if possible. In this way I at least pursue the idea of excellence in speaking the truth, the factual truth, not the made-up truth so popular today.
For example, some say Jesus never actually claimed to be God, the Messiah, or the Savior of the world. I would offer these simple words, often misquoted, often used to spin some agenda, but when taken at face value, are the absolute truth.
John 14:6 – Jesus says:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,
and no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Don’t believe it.
Neither response changes the FACTS of its TRUTHFULNESS, or that He indeed spoke these words.