Speak Softly But Carry a Big Stick

This is one of my favorite adages, and I wish I could apply it more to my own life.

"Speak Softly But Carry a Big Stick" is unique because it rejects the strict passiveness some of the greatest men in history have supported. Instead, it supports quietly wielding power most of the time but being prepared to use force-whether figurative or literal-when it is necessary.

Theodore Roosevelt was a strong proponent of this way of thinking. On a more personal level, one of the people I can think of who best exemplifies the adage is Hussein Waljee, a former president of Zeta Beta Tau, Xi Chapter. As president, Hussein led quietly most of the time. He would talk one-on-one with people and execute his plans without too much fanfare. When a big issue came up, though, he used his leadership forcefully to help the Brotherhood recover. People were surprised by the sudden show of strength from someone who had wielded his strength less publicly before. This worked to his advantage, though-people knew he was serious and meant business.

Some misinterpret this statement to mean that one should be passive most of the time, becoming violent when provoked. Instead, it means that you should be restrained and use what power you have quietly. You will make more friends and seem less hot-headed and arrogant. The big stick, in fact, is something that people should know exists but never see-they should be aware that you have more power than you let on so that they are unwilling to provoke you to utilize it. That is one of the most powerful positions to be in. And isn't that what life is all about-being in the most powerful position possible without having too many enemies?

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Links of Interest: Theodore Roosevelt Association
Confessions of a Patriotic Pacifist
Hussein Waljee