Abraham Lincoln


I've just read Abe's second inaugral address, given just one month before his death, after the civil war ended, and was utterly struck by his excellent concluding words: "Let us strive...to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." I wonder what Abe would say to George W. about what he treats as valuable, should the two of them happen to meet?

Comments

Justin said…
Not saying I agree or disagree, but all of this depends on your perspective. And I don’t get all of this. But…

1. Some I know [conservatives] think that Abraham Lincoln is responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths over a States right to secede. Enormously less peaceful than Iraq.

2. Others I know [thoroughly liberal] think that Lincoln's push for a Union [Vs States rights] provided all the conditions for modern America. i.e. Lincoln created Bush and made him far more powerful than he could have been before the Civil War.

Someone tell me that this is not right.

But I do like his words.
Benjamin Ady said…
Justin--wow, you state that strange dichotomy so succinctly. Is there a way to have ended slavery and *not* have the U.S. become what it is today? Strange questions. Of course Abe was the first president elected from the part of GWB. I'm more inclined toward the liberal understanding. I rather think that the power of the federal government is scarier/worse than slavery, and that slavery would have ended *anyway*! Mclaren talked about the reality of working to end injustice without resorting to the power/evil of those who are perpetrating it. I think Lincoln and co. ultimately made the wrong choice in resorting to power/evil to overcome the injustice of slavery, and it makes sense to me that this plays out now in Bush/America making the same wrong choice. How shall I resist the same temptation, and also resist the converse temptation to simply ignore injustice? Hard things!
Megs said…
Justin and Bens - I really like your thought provoking comments. Martin Luther King Junior, and his non-violent resistance springs to my mind.

It's always fascinated me about the USA, this tension between being strongly anti-government, with big signs on their gates saying, essentially, go away or i'll shoot you, and yet celebrating and glorying in all the privilege (etc) that their big, powerful government has enabled them to enjoy.

I didn't word that very well, but it's always struck me as kind of inconsistent, and yet so deeply entrenched in the culture. I guess that's the nature of tensions, when they're cultural... I think that one element of my definition of culture is the tensions that don't worry us because a whole we are part of doesn't question them.
re Justin's comment #1: And the Civil War was particularly devastating because weaponry was advancing, and more lethal than ever, but medicine had not made the big advances it had by WW1. But whether or not to fight is not always an easy question. Would you have, with Bonhoeffer, taken a shot at Hitler?? Even though he's one of my heroes, I don't know whether or not I would have joined in.
Justin said…
Gretta, Yes. Enormously difficult -- the question of when to fight and when not to fight.

I haven't looked closely at Bonhoeffer's reasoning at taking a shot at Hitler. But I trust that he deeply agonized over it, and was unwilling as he took part. (Unwilling in the sense that he took no pleasure in the plot.) If I were to join him, I would want to know that the process of planning had no joy in it, simply responsibility.

For my part (and I’m aware that I am near Benjamin as I say this), I can see a case for violent resistance in some cases.
Megs said…
I sometimes struggle with my tendency towards the non-violent end of this spectrum when I see how violent my thoughts can be towards those I love most - there must be a place, between idealistic pacificism and reluctant, obligatory extreme violence which embraces both the reality of our human natures and hope.

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