Opinion Columns & Blogs

WALKER: I wish I had said that

I have just finished an amazing and fascinating book: “Jerry Lee Lewis -- His Own Story” by Rick Bragg. I was mesmerized, and the only thing that prevented me from reading it faster was eye fatigue. What a story! I’ll write more about the book before the year is up.

Today, though, I want to initially write about Rick Bragg and his God-given and finely honed way with words. I’ve read lots of books, but no one writes better than Bragg. For example, even in his “Acknowledgments,” as he writes about Lewis, he is unique in the way he puts it:

“Writing about a long life is easy, next to living it. ... He was not, in hot spells, a man to be admired, but I liked him when it was all over. ... He broke my heart a hundred times, and made me laugh a thousand or more. ...”

With this introduction, I come to my subject. I call it, “I Wish I Had Said That,” and I do! Here it is.

Several years ago, some friends gave me a book for my birthday titled “Great Quotes From Great Leaders.” When I read the book, I was fascinated with some of the quotes -- most of which I had never heard or read. I knew the leaders, but not the words. Let me share a few of the “quotes” with you.

One of my heroes was Sir Winston Churchill. This is one of his:

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

And so it is. Even the dull and ignorant can teach you if you will only listen and pay some attention. Another of his is:

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

Amen. I know some people just like that. The word “pious” comes to mind. Abraham Lincoln said:

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

I think of Gov. Chris Christie.

Another of Mr. Lincoln’s:

“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”

And another of Lincoln’s:

“No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.”

And on the same subject, Thomas Jefferson said this:

“He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second time.”

And this:

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”

I love what Benjamin Franklin had to say about neighbors, as it is so true:

“Love your neighbor -- but don’t pull down your hedge.”

Another great truth spoken by Franklin:

“Creditors have better memories than debtors.”

And yet another:

“Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.”

Confucius said this:

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

I love Harry Truman. Here are three of his:

“I always considered statesmen to be more expendable than soldiers.”

“A politician is a man who understands government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a politician who’s been dead for 15 years.”

“Some of the presidents were great and some of them weren’t. I can say that because I wasn’t one of the great presidents, but I had a good time trying to be one, I can tell you that.”

I believe Truman was in error in his last quote. I believe he was one of our great presidents.

Another great president, Theodore Roosevelt, said this:

“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

When I read each of these quotes, I thought, how true. I wish I had been smart enough to think, say or write some of these things.

Larry Walker is an attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and now serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.