Someone once said, “Don’t judge someone until you walk a mile in his shoes.” After reading three books about Theodore Roosevelt, I think I am closer to knowing the man a little better.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t read biographies to praise human beings as the be-all, end-all of everything. I read biographies because they are usually the most well written books and secondly, good biographers show the good and the bad sides of their subjects.
Roosevelt was one of most prolific and intelligent presidents this nation ever had: he wrote no less than 36 books. Some of the books he wrote were dictated in less than 30-days, and even those show a remarkable scholarship and erudition. His “Winning of the West” was the definitive history of the settlement of the Western United States and is still in print (available on Amazon). His autobiography, too, is in print. Folks, we’re talking about a man who lived more than 100-years ago (1858-1918).
One of Roosevelt’s most amazing traits was his lack of fear. He was a weak and sickly child. When his father told him he needed to train his body and overcome asthma, he did just that. When he decided to attend Harvard and graduate with honors, he did just that. When he decided to win election to the New York assembly, he did it. When he decided to go to North Dakota and live as a cowboy, the bespectacled young man did. just. that. This little sickly child grew up to become a man who had no fear staring down a grizzly bear.
Was I impressed with him? Yes, I was. But, I was also saddened. Roosevelt never really gave God a chance. When his first wife, Anna, died, he entered a terrible time of grief but put his wife from his mind to go West. When he lost elections and had problems with others, we don’t know he ever sought out the Almighty for help. When I think that such a remarkable man died lost, it makes me very sad, and it should make us all very sad.
There are many people in the world who are like or unlike Roosevelt but just like him they need God. If we are sad Teddy won’t be walking “When the Saints Go Marching In,” we ought to learn from it and teach others the gospel.