The Thought for the Day/Evan Thomas

Ike was careful not to reveal his most intimate thoughts about a weapon he abhorred but might have to use.
Evan Thomas
Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World

Evan Thomas (b. 1951) is an American historian and writer who has written on everything from the CIA to Robert Kennedy to Richard Nixon and John Paul Jones. Ike’s Bluff is a really good book about the national security and foreign policy aspects of Eisenhower’s presidency, providing a compelling and detailed look at Ike, including detailing Eisenhower’s ability to draw on his patience and self-confidence in momentous times.

A common saying, and a true enough one, is that knowledge is power. In all things, really, both circumstantial and intrinsic. Circumstantially, we need to know things to get ahead in life. We need knowledge when purchasing a car or a home or an education. Intrinsically, we need to know ourselves and we need to be able to draw on our experiences for knowledge of how the world is built, on how the natural order operates.

Ike was careful not to reveal his most intimate thoughts…

One aspect of knowledge being power includes knowledge you reserve for yourself. Eisenhower was very good at keeping his own counsel at times and was not afraid to give the impression he knew less than he really did. This is an enviable trait because once we’ve revealed what we know we can no longer reserve it for ourselves, and sometimes keeping others in the dark about what we know can be put to advantage. 

The ultimate knowledge is knowing ourselves. We are the only person we see every day of our lives, and we had better put the work in that is required to know ourselves inside and out. Those who do this know when their traits and foibles can be put to advantage and when they will reveal weakness. They know when to assert themselves and when to stand back. They avoid conflicts and pettiness that ensnare others.

But just because we know ourselves doesn’t mean we have to blab this knowledge to everybody. There is no need to announce the path we are on. Merely being on that path every day will be an example to others, and an inspiration to some.

Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quote book, begun in 1988 in a hotel room in Berkeley, California.

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