Volume 36, Issue 10, October 2001


Thanks Abe, I Needed That
        Words of Wisdom from One of America’s Heroes
by Lyle R. Hill

Editor’s Note: In light of the recent tragedies at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we reprint the following article by Lyle Hill, which first appeared in the September 1995 issue of USGlass.

Writing a monthly column and knowing that people on occasion read it is a real delight. It’s also an ego boost to know that your thoughts and opinions are being carried in what is, without question, the industry’s most read and best produced publication. But I also have to admit that the responsibility of coming up with an article month after month can at times be a real burden. You see, at least once a month, usually around the fifth or so, the phone rings and one of those friendly voices at USGlass reminds me that a column is due.

At any given time there are at least five or so half-finished columns in my right-hand desk drawer. Some are waiting for an ending. Others are in need of a beginning. Quite often, an idea or theme has been identified, but will require a lot of work to be developed into a presentable format. Believe it or not, a great deal of self-inflicted pressure is generated in an effort to produce something that I feel will not be an embarrassment.

Additionally, there has been a great deal of external pressure, mostly from my children, to write something less silly and more meaningful. This is particularly difficult for me because I can deal with silly. Serious is not so easy.

So, with all of this in mind, I set out to write a column that would deal with some of the issues plaguing not only our industry, but society in general. Indeed, problems are all around us. We’ve become a society being led around and misdirected by special-interest groups and extremists.

Everyone seems to feel that they’re entitled to anything and everything that anyone else has; not because they’ve earned it, but because they simply want it.

The debate over equal opportunity and affirmative- action programs continues with no answer. In spite of billions of tax dollars thrown at the problem, Lyndon Johnson’s nearly 30-year War on Poverty has been hopelessly lost. Common sense, pragmatism and rational thinking have abandoned us, and our leaders are clueless.

But what can I possibly say that would have any significance whatsoever in all of this? You see, I really am better at silly than at serious, and some days I’m not really good at either. But then something unforeseen happened. While tearing through some old files in search of records the Internal Revenue Service apparently felt were more important than I did—talk about people who can deal with silly—I found an old clipping I had filed away many, many years ago. And to my total delight, it said some of the things I wanted to say and certainly said them more eloquently than I could have dreamed possible. My notes indicate that it was written by Abe Lincoln, and the thoughts expressed are as timely and meaningful today as they ever were:

    “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

    You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

    You cannot help the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred.

    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

    You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

    You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.
    You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

Thanks Abe, you really came through. 


HILL Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago.  lyle@glass.com


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