President Woodrow Wilson And The Triple Honorary Degrees

When President Woodrow Wilson became the President of Princeton University, he saw that many people were getting honorary degrees. One man had received three honorary degrees from Princeton alone. So many people were being given honorary degrees! They were receiving them not on the basis of real merit, but only because they had a reputation of having done something great. According to President Wilson, the people did not really earn their honorary degrees.

He was so amused and a little sad and upset that one individual had received so many honorary degrees from Princeton. He asked, "How can we give triple honorary degrees to one person? He can receive these honours from different universities, but how can it be from the same university?"

The authorities said, "We gave him the third, because he had two already."

President Wilson asked, "Then why did you give him two honorary degrees?"

They said, "He already had one honorary degree, so we did not have any problem giving him the second one."

"How did he get the first one?"

"Ah, anybody can have an honorary degree."

There is something instructive in all this. If some people are appreciating a given individual, then many others also are ready to appreciate that person. When one is already great, then other people all follow, follow, follow. But how does the person become great in the first place? In the beginning, someone shows him compassion, and then he becomes great.

It is a similar story with rich people — they are always getting more presents and more money from people. At first, some people show compassion and the person becomes great or rich. Then, in a very clever way, people show adoration. When a man is already considered great by others, then there is no difficulty in appreciating the person. But in the beginning, people find it so difficult to appreciate others. After one person shows compassion, this opens the door for others to show adoration, and before long everyone is showing adoration.