In this month of celebrating the life of Abraham Lincoln, I stumbled on a story from Lincoln’s time that indirectly applies to today.
A young soldier, William Scott, was sentenced to death by firing squad for dereliction of duty. This young man volunteered to relieve his sick friend of his responsibilities to act as a watchman. Unfortunately, serving 16 hours as a sentry was more than the young soldier could tolerate. He was found fast asleep at his post. This was considered a crime punishable by a firing squad.
Our president, Abraham Lincoln, when notified of William Scott’s pending death, decided to meet with him. Upon meeting William Scott, President Lincoln and he discussed letting his fellow soldiers down. Scott was so ashamed, he asked the president if he could at least have soldiers from another troop fire the shots at his execution. He couldn’t bear the thought of having his friends from within his troop having to take on the task of his execution.
In the twist typical of President Lincoln’s folksy wisdom he asked about the young man’s mother. He wanted to know what traumatic feelings the young soldier might have brought onto his mother through this dereliction of duty. President Lincoln pardoned William Scott with the directive that he serve his future duties in a manner that would honor his mother.
Move to 2012 and let me introduce someone facing their execution. This young man, not much older than William Scott, is also facing an early death. The crime is also dereliction of duty. In this case, to take care of himself. Common sense tells us that morbid obesity is an early death sentence with years of decreased quality of life due to emotional, mental and physical anguish. Between type 2 diabetes, decreased breathing capacity, inability to sleep well and inability to move well due to osteoarthritis, the expense of morbid obesity goes beyond dollars.
Back to our main character facing an early death for dereliction of duty. He knows the responsibilities that are required to become a productive person. Are morbidly obese people unproductive? No. This young man, however, would surely be more productive if his lifestyle habits were consistently healthier.
Where is Abraham Lincoln when we need him? We need honest Abe to stop by and tell this young man the truth about living life and facing a death due to morbid obesity. We need Lincoln to also tell this young man to honor his mother through his lifestyle habits.
The request for change in any of us may take on a form of criticism and judgement. It may also be an act of love. If not for you, then for someone important in your life.