Just a thought: The uplifting impact of the written word


One hundred and fifty-seven years ago on April 14, 1865 from a Presidential Box at the Ford Theater in Washington, DC, one of our greatest Presidents was enjoying the play, “Our American Cousin.” John Wilkes Booth entered the box from the rear and shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of his head. President Lincoln was moved across the street where he would battle for his life through the night before dying the next day.

Obviously, President Lincoln had no knowledge as he dressed for the play that this evening would be the last of his life. Many years back there was a Smithsonian Institute exhibit in the basement of the Ford Theater that displayed the personal effects found on Abraham Lincoln the night he was shot.

He had a small handkerchief embroidered “A. Lincoln”, a country boy’s pen knife, a Confederate five-dollar bill, a spectacle case repaired with cotton string. He also carried a worn-out newspaper clipping stating his accomplishments as President. It began “Abe Lincoln is one of the greatest statesmen of all time...”

This was a time of significant crisis in our county. It was a time when our President was fiercely criticized for whatever decisions he made in an effort to keep our nation together as one. The number of American deaths in our Civil War in which Americans killed Americans exceeded 600,000. In these days of turmoil, how many times do you think Abraham Lincoln pulled out the worn and tattered clipping? How many times do you think the article in his pocket gave him strength and energy to help him through these most difficult times?

How important are uplifting writings in our world? I believe they are critical.

What do you do when someone sends you an uplifting card? Do you read it once and throw it in the trash or do you read it a second time? Do you keep the note just in case you want to read it again later?

My wife and I moved recently after 25 years in the same home and we came across notes from deceased grandparents and family members written over 40 years ago. Each of them is a treasure to us.

Kind words spoken are important. It is important to share positive thoughts when we think of them. A sincere, “I like your tie” or “You look great in that outfit” can make the recipient’s day. We need to look for opportunities to uplift others in our daily lives. Our compliment may be the only one the other person receives the entire day. And who doesn’t like to be complimented? Don’t fabricate compliments, but if it is sincere and from the heart, go ahead and share it. Samuel Goldwyn said, “When someone does something good, applaud. You’ll make two people happy.” Mark Twain said, “I can live two months on a good compliment!”

Verbal praises are important. But how much more powerful are written praises? Let me share with you another example to illustrate this point that involved a young man named Mark Eklund and his teacher. One Friday, while Mark was in third grade, his teacher, Mrs. Mrosla had the students take out a sheet of paper and list the names of all of the students in the class. After each classmate’s name each student was instructed to write the nicest thing that they could say about their fellow student. It was just another day in third grade. Or was it?

Mrs. Mrosla collected the papers as the students left and the next day she wrote out a page for each student and listed what each student’s classmates had written about them. On Monday she gave each student their paper with the praises listed. The class had a great Monday. No one mentioned the papers the rest of the year. The students grew up and moved away and Mrs. Mrolsa lost touch with Mark.

Many years later Mrs. Mrosla got a call from Mark’s parents. She was told he was killed in Vietnam. They informed her Mark’s funeral was the following day, and asked if she could attend. The teacher attended the funeral and was the last one in line to bless the coffin. Mark’s parents waited for her and in visiting with her. Mark’s father pulled his son’s wallet out of his pocket. His dad said that it had been retrieved from his son’s body after his death. Out of his wallet Mark’s father pulled two worn pieces of third grade notebook paper that had been taped, folded, and refolded many times.

Mrs. Mrolsa immediately recognized them. Mark’s mother said, “Thank you so much for doing that, as you can see, Mark treasured it.” As his classmates gathered after the funeral, Mrs. Mrosla learned that Chuck still had his in the top drawer of his desk at home. John had his put in his wedding album. Marilyn had hers in her diary. Vicki reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet, and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group and said “I carry this with me at all times”.

It was then that Mrs. Mrolsa finally broke down and cried.

The power of the written word. You never know how important something written you send to another will be to the recipient. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t appreciate being uplifted in writing. How powerful are written notes and cards? I know I appreciate each note and card you readers have sent regarding my columns. I keep them in a notebook along with the column that they comment on.

After speaking for years on the importance of writings, I decided it was important for me to practice what I preached. I challenged myself to take time each day to write a note to another person. I challenged myself to determine an individual who needed uplifting or encouragement, or who should be recognized or honored for some accomplishment or contribution. I decided if I was going to advocate the importance of writing notes, surely I could lead by example and write a note a day for an entire year. This was my challenge to myself. For my first year I didn’t share this challenge with a soul, not even my wife, Tanya.

I also wanted to make sure each note was sincere. I was not going to write a note just to keep a streak alive. I have found there are times I spend ten minutes thinking and praying over who I need to write to. Except for six days when I was in a hospital ICU, at this time I have written at least one note every day for 8121 consecutive days (22 years). Every note I have written has been sincere and from the heart or else it wouldn’t have been sent.

My challenge to you today is to take five minutes in your busy day to write an uplifting note or card to another. Do it today. Send it to someone who could use uplifting. You never know, your note could make a major impact on the life of the recipient. What impact did the writings carried by Abraham Lincoln and Mark Eklund make on their lives?

If each of you would write just one note each day or every other day to someone who needs encouragement or uplifting or who should be recognized for an accomplishment, how many individual’s lives would be improved by such uplifting? And if notes and cards are being sent and received daily from throughout your community, how high could your community fly as a whole with such positive energy flowing among you?

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.orgmailto:thekraftlawfirm@aol.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.


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