Friday, August 29, 2014

Anecdote - Personal Art of Story Telling

Dr Abe V Rotor
The word anecdote means unpublished. True to its nature an anecdote is typically oral and ephemeral.

It is a short tale narrating an interesting or amusing biographical incident. It is always based on real life, an incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, in real places. It sets a stage of provocation, more than mere entertainment or narration.

US President Abraham Lincoln, father of the Anecdote (Photo Credit, Internet)

Abraham Lincoln is regarded as the father of the Anecdote. He used it effectively in his administration as president of the United States. And people today use the same technique on many occasions.

What make a good anecdote?

A. It is characterized by
• Witticism
• Humor
• Positivism and inspirational
• Informative and educational

B. It is a combination of these elements that make a good story, depending on the topics and application.
• As a speaker/ resource person
• Presiding in meetings and conferences
• Informal gatherings /parties
• Writing, news, features
• Broadcasting – radio and TV

C. Stories are used as tool in
• Driving a point indirectly and diplomatically
• Hitting the nail on the head, so to speak
• Friendly advice and reminder
• Admiring a person, institution or place
• Tapping a shoulder in words, kudos, congratulations

D. An anecdote is never
• Moralism (Even a homily should strive not to proselytize.)
• Criticism, especially on persons
• Bulgarism – discreet, dignified, unkind words are avoided.
• Familiarism – not all too familiar topics
• Fatalism – bato bato sa langit syndrome
• Propagandism – and not politicizing

Here's a popular anecdote about US President Abraham Lincoln after delivering his famous Gettysburg Address. As a background to the story, Edward Everett a popular elderly to his community was the first to deliver a very long speech before Lincoln delivered his very brief address.

This is how Quote Magazine describes the occasion in an anecdote.

Perhaps Edward Everett talked a bit too long at Gettysburg, but he was an old man then, by the standards of his day – within a few months of his seventieth birthday. And this was the culminating glory of a long career. But Everett was among those who perfected the classic qualities of the Lincoln address. In a note to the President the following day he said: “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”

With his customary graciousness President Lincoln replied: "In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, or I a long one.”

Among the finest anecdotes in the world are those written by, or attributed to, the Father of Anecdotes, Abraham Lincoln. Here are selected anecdotes reflecting the character of this great leader, anecdotes that continue to influence the thinking and temperament of the world.

Went around it
Lincoln is reported to have said: “Some men are like the stump the old farmer has in his field – too hard to uproot, too knotty to split, and too wet and soggy to burn.” His neighbors asked him what he did about it. “Well, now, boys,” he answered. “I just plowed around it.” That’s a good thing to do with the obstacles that we encounter. (Thomas H. Warner, Church Management)

Presidential Polish
During the Civil War days a foreign minister to the United States was shocked when, on a call to the White House, he found President Lincoln shining his own shoes. He told the President that in his country it was not the custom of gentlemen to polish their own shoes.

With his customary resourcefulness and nimble wit, President Lincoln replied, “Then whose shoes do they polish?” (The Red Barrel)

Lincoln’s Enemy
Abraham Lincoln was questioned by one of his advisers as follows: “Mr. President, I cannot understand you. You treat your enemies with such kindness. It would seem to me that you should want to destroy them.”
“My dear fellow,” said the President. “I do destroy my enemy when I make him into a friend.” (Anonymous)

Musical President
Throughout his life, music was a solace to Lincoln. “His musical tastes,” says a biographer, “were simple and uncultivated, his choice being old airs, songs and ballads.” On one of his walks through Washington during the war, Lincoln passed a schoolhouse where children were singing. He took off his beaver hat and heard the song through, his face brightening the while.  Then he straightened up and walked off with a more elastic step. (Sunday Magazine)

Using Words Carefully
If the story of the Creation can be told in 400 words, if the Ten Commandments contain 297 words, if Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address was only 266 words, if an entire concept of freedom was set in the Declaration of Independence in about 1,300 words – it is up to some of us to use fewer words, and thus save the time energy, vitality, and nerves of those who must read or listen (Jerome P Fleishman)

Lenient Treatment
Lincoln was often the despair of his generals because of his lenient treatment of cases where soldiers were absent without leave.

“If the good Lord has given a man a cowardly pair of legs,” Lincoln reasoned, “it is hard to keep them from running away with him.”

Curiosity
“What made the deepest impression upon you?” inquired a friend one day, of Abraham Lincoln, “when you stood in the presence of the Falls of Niagara, the greatest of natural wonders?”

“The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls,” Lincoln responded with characteristic deliberation, “was where in the world did all that water come from?”

Simple Abe
Abe Lincoln was a simple man with honest generous impulses. When he was a candidate for the legislature, it was the practice at that date in Illinois for two rival candidates to travel over the district together. The custom led to much good-natured raillery between them.

On one occasion he had driven out from Springfield in company with a political opponent to engage in joint debate. The carriage, it seems, belonged to his opponent. In addressing the gathering of farmers that met them, Lincoln was lavish in praise of the generosity of his friend.
“I am too poor to own a carriage,” he said, “but my friend has generously invited me to ride with him. I want you to vote for me if you will but if not then vote for my opponent, for he is a fine man.”

Boys
Roland Diller who was one of Lincoln’s neighbors in Springfield tells the following story:

“I was called to the door one day by the cries of children in the street, and there was Mr. Lincoln, striding by with two of his boys, both of whom were wailing aloud. “Why Mr. Lincoln, what’s the matter with the boys?” I asked. “Just what’s the matter with the whole world,” Lincoln replied.

“I’ve got three walnuts, and each wants two.”

Story telling is an art. Strive for the state-of-the-art of story telling - through anecdotes. ~

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