THE STRENUOUS LIFE: This book consist of a series of speeches TR gave before he became president. From a very young age TR decided to be a honest person like his father. TR was a preacher of civic duty. When you read or listen to what he is saying keep in mind that he strictly lived by the words he spoke.
Wouldn't it be nice to hear about a really honest politician today? This is what TR has to say about that in this book. "No community is healthy where it is ever necessary to distinguish one politician among his fellows because "he is honest." Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public". I guess TR would say that we do not have a healthy community today and it is time to do something about that.
In these speeches among other things TR lays great stress on military preparedness and military duty. I want to say a little about this. Socratic reasoning is a process where what is good action for the individual on a small scale is good action for the state. You only need to apply it on a broader scale. Without government protection, individual freedom is not possible so he stresses the most important element of freedom. Strength is directly related to individual freedom to act honestly. Without strength in the individual or the state our system of government decays according to TR’s reasoning. The principle course of action remains the same for state and individual. If honesty is important for an individual it is also important for the government and visa versa. If you want to be honest and treat others well there will always be the bully or prig that will stand in your way or make fun out of you so that others will not follow your example. Now consider both parts of his adage, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far”. I estimate that 90% or more of his life was about speaking softly. His honest and caring helpful attitude toward everyone was the speak softly part of TR, the big stick, which he rarely had to use, was what made it possible for him to speak softly. He knew that if others perceive you helpless that you are destine to be a victim. The following quote is from his autobiography he was 13 years old.
"Then an incident happened that did me real good. Having an attack of asthma, I was sent off by myself to Moosehead Lake. On the stage-coach ride thither I encountered a couple of other boys who were about my own age, but very much more competent and also much more mischievous. I have no doubt they were good-hearted boys, but they were boys! They found that I was a foreordained and predestined victim, and industriously proceeded to make life miserable for me. The worst feature was that when I finally tried to fight them I discovered that either one singly could not only handle me with easy contempt, but handle me so as not to hurt me much and yet to prevent my doing any damage whatever in return. The experience taught me what probably no amount of good advice could have taught me. I made up my mind that I must try to learn so that I would not again be put in such a helpless position; and having become quickly and bitterly conscious that I did not have the natural prowess to hold my own". What works or a little boy also works for a country, keep this also in mind when he stresses military preparedness in this book.