You might have read last week’s story about my book being honored with a Will Rogers Medallion Award. Some of you younger readers may have never heard of Will Rogers. He was born in 1879 and died in an airplane crash in 1935 at the age of 55. If you happen to be one of my former students, you might remember this poster that hung in my room for as long as I can remember.
It now hangs in my side of the barn where all my larger non-cold hardy plants spend the winter. It is a reminder of my teaching days, and is still a reminder that we all have areas we are well-versed in and shouldn’t feel less than perfect when we turn out to have weak spots along with our strengths.
Now, to really understand this quote, you need to remember that ignorant means lacking knowledge, awareness, or information about a particular subject or thing, whereas stupid means lacking intelligence or reason. So, not having a working knowledge of a topic just means you are ignorant in that area, not that you are lacking the intelligence to learn about it. For example, I die in the math department, but do pretty well in English and reading, but that doesn’t mean I am stupid. And that distinction applies to us all.
Will Rogers was a Native American from Oklahoma who left military school to herd livestock and became an entertainer as a vaudeville performer doing rope tricks. He went on to become an American favorite with his easy-going, homespun style that made him world-famous. Will Rogers made movies- silent films and talkies, wrote over 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns, and did regular broadcasts of his newspaper pieces. He was known as a cowboy philosopher who was liked for his quotes and comments that made fun of gangsters, politicians, government programs, and just about anything, no matter how controversial, and he seemed to never offend anyone.
I find many of his quotes relating to politics particularly relevant today, such as: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts..”
“The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”
“We always want the best man to win an election. Unfortunately, he never runs.”
“I remember when being liberal meant being generous with your own money.”
And one of my favorites-“The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips aboard. It might be worth it, but they keep coming back.”
His most famous quote is said to be “I never met a man I didn’t like,” but the one on my poster is my favorite. No one knows everything, not even champion Jeopardy contestants, and we all have our areas of expertise that someone else may not have. Kids in particular need to remember this and not be hard on themselves if they don’t make straight A’s in every subject or excel in every sport or don’t know things other kids might make fun of them for not knowing.
That’s why Will Rogers and my poster will always be relevant, regardless of what the rest of the world says.
If you want to learn more about Will Rogers and see more of his quotes, just google him or go to this website:
If you want to learn more about the Will Rogers Medallion Award and why it is named after him, go to: