Presidential Advice to Keep Calm

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 4, 2013

My anger is as legendary as both my parents’ and I have worked to overcome it from as far back as I can remember. Until recently, I have only known about three other mothers who dealt with the same type of anger as I have. These other mothers spoke of the (1) fear of the anger causing her to harm her children, (2) the fear of losing their children to child protective services and (3) the utter shame that they feel for having anger that strong.

Much of my stress as a parent came not from my children, but from others outside my household: insurance company representatives, retail and grocery clerks, radio interviewers, rude drivers on the highway, mean people in the news, mechanics, municipal offices, pharmacists, a parking ticket officer, schools, doctor’s offices and more. How did I deal with that irrational anger? I dealt with a portion of stress by following advice given to a president.

President Johnson’s advice helped me remain calm many times.

I listened to a television interview with President Lyndon Johnson when I was in fifth grade. Something he said struck a chord with me and has helped me remain calm many times over the years. (Yes, I listened to politicians when I was ten.) He was talking about advice a nameless, former senator gave him when he was a fledgling senator himself.

“The first thing you have to learn, son, is to tell a man to go to hell, and to make him go are two different propositions.”

When I was ten that quote was saying to me, “If I can make someone do the right thing then I should press forward. If not, then I should let it go.” I never forgot what I learned from President Lyndon Johnson all those years ago.

Now that I am older I know there are ways to deal with situations or people that cause so much stress but I would ask myself, how much is this worth to me? With business entities there would be financial gains: a refund on merchandise, a prescription corrected or a parking fine dropped. Others were just not worth it for me: a rude driver, delays in the doctor’s office, people in the news or a clerk. More often than not I would just let it go as I understood from Johnson’s anecdote.

How do you decide if a stressful situation is worth your time and aggravation? I would love to hear from you!


Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks on Conservation at a Breakfast in Portland Saluting the Northwest-Southwest Power Transmission Intertie.,” September 17, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
The entire quote by author: Lyndon B. Johnson quoting an unnamed, former senator
[ As I walked out the door, I saw an old man there that was the general counsel for the water district. He was an ex-Senator. I said, “Senator, how did you like my speech?” He said, “Come by the office and I would like to talk to you about it.” I said, “Oh, oh.” So I went by and he said, “You are in public life. You are a young man just starting out and I want to see you move along and do well. But,” he said, “the first thing you have to learn, son, is to tell a man to go to hell and to make him go are two different propositions.” ]
Date: Sept. 17, 1964
Source: <;
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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