With the Presidential inauguration over and done with (albeit needing two presidential oaths of office) I started reflecting on why some people get notoriety and others fade into the shadows. For instance, why have I never been invited to become President of the United States? What did Franklin D. Roosevelt have that I don't have?
My memory carries me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear - when the country was caught up in the horrors of the Great Depression. I don't remember Herbert Hoover, as president but historically he appears to have been a very serious, laid back individual who was good man at heart but lacked the charisma that FDR had. There've been a lot of things said about FDR and the New Deal. A lot of things remain from the 1930's - state parks and national forests, products of the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. There was a lot of creative work done during the Great Depression but that didn't overcome the depression. Fact is, it took the Second World War to lift the economy out of the doldrums. I don't like thinking that it takes a war to get past a Depression or Recession.
Regardless of where the nation was economically, the thing that most lifted the spirit of the nation was an exuberant, charismatic president. He had a positive outlook toward the future.
If we look back over the years we can find a lot of people who have presented a charismatic persona. Not just in politics but throughout the entertainment and business/manufacturing
worlds. Beyond that, I think of when I was in high school and there were those "who had it" and those that didn't. Certainly in school I didn't have much charisma (except for an ability to get accused of mischief). But I can think of a lot of people who DID have charisma (like our school cheer-leaders).
I guess what I'm really thinking of today is that it is one thing to flaunt a personality and another thing to have the personality and really accomplish something in life. We can look back in the entertainment field and recall movie stars and music personalities who were highly regarded - perhaps worshipped in their time - who are more or less forgotten today. Their charisma was here today - gone tomorrow. But what did they leave behind? What is their gift to humanity?
Sometimes I tend to think that charisma can only be skin deep -- not a deeply impressive way of life. On the other hand, some of the least charismatic people make some of the lasting contributions to the world.
I had an uncle who was a somewhat retiring person. Never got married. Never seemed to be flashy or obvious in the world. But in his quiet nature he left a great deal to me. That you don't have to be obvious or pretentious to leave the world a better place. All you have to do is care about your family and friends and do the best you can each day. That's a real gift and I treasure his memory a lot. And would like to think that, in his own way, he had a charisma, if only to a
little boy in his formative years, that has lasted - lasts - over time. For this I give thanks.