The Ten Cannots

  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  • You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
  • And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

This is a list of “Cannots”, originally authored by William J. H. Boetcker, an American Presbyterian minister. The list is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln (due to a printing mistake in a pamphlet published in 1942). I’d not previously seen these – but I immediately like them.

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