Wise words

My husband highly recommends The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. The book focuses on Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister during WWII. It also provides great insight into his private life.

Gary awarded the book five out of five stars, but he would give a thumb’s up to any book on Churchill. The man was a fascinating force in world history. He stood a little over 5’6”, but he was a tower of strength to be reckoned with, a fierce patriot until his death.

There’s a lot about Churchill that is not common knowledge. He was an author and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. He was an artist who painted over 500 canvases.

He loved his poodle, Rufus. He lost a daughter to suicide. He proposed to Ethel Barrymore, and she refused.

Churchill once said, “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”

He overslept the morning he had planned to propose to Clementine, the woman who would remain by his side. After they married, she always rose early and Winston slept late, but their 57 years together tells me they must have worked it out.

Like all of us, Churchill made personal and professional mistakes. He was not perfect, but he could be fun.  

When Lady Nancy Astor told him: “If I was your wife Sir, I’d poison your coffee!” Churchill replied, “Madam, if I was your husband, I’d drink it!”

Of British politician Stafford Cripps, Winston said, “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

On the subject of death, he declared, “I’m ready to meet my maker, but whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

Churchill was not perfect, but he was wise. He said, “Eating words has never given me indigestion.”

What gives me indigestion is not admitting it when I say the wrong thing. It’s freeing to concede a mistake, but I guess I like to torture myself by putting it off.

A few of my favorite Churchillisms:

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Most of us are agree with all of the above, but we require constant reminding.

The great Prime Minister and two-time Time Magazine “Man of the Year” said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Maybe that’s why it takes so long to sort out problems.

On politics, Churchill believed that “Any 20-year-old who isn’t a liberal doesn’t have a heart, and any 40-year-old who isn’t a conservative doesn’t have a brain.”

Could that have something to do with maturing through experience?

Clementine’s husband recognized that “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.”

In this election year, it’s easy to find examples of both.

Churchill nailed the definition of socialism: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

He also knew how to prioritize: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

Churchill never underestimated the value of perseverance: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

We would all do well to embrace Winston Churchill’s words of wisdom.

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