Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lincoln would be proud but not surprised

Many people ponder about how the great President Abraham Lincoln would feel about President elect, soon to be President, Barrack Obama. They figure, for the most part, that he would be surprised to see the first African-American President.

I actually do not think he would be surprised. There is something that moderns do not understand about the great Founding Fathers, including up to and including Abe Lincoln. Moderns are so filled with a mixture of world weary "real politick" point of view combined with lack of understanding of cultural realities of older times that they totally miss one thing. The Founding Fathers, including Abe Lincoln, were ardent visionaries who were fervently in love with both the reality and the potential of America.

Regardless of their religion, their gender or their class, and even though they were "white males," the great Presidents and the Founding Fathers had one thing in common: They envisioned an America that is so great and full of potential that they designed it with no preconceived notion of limitations. It's like when you really love your spouse or your child that you really think that they can do anything that they put their mind to, when they do something wonderful, you marvel at it, but you are not surprised. You have wonder and pride, but you are not shocked that your loved one could do something so great.

Abe Lincoln was such a man. Do not be distracted by thinking that "oh, well, he lived in this backwards cultural time or that type of family, or upbringing" or whatever. The great men, and women, who created this country, and guided it during the worst of times, such as the Civil War, were uplifted far beyond the mud, sorrows and limitations of their time. They kept their eyes always upward regarding the future of America. They did not limit themselves or waste time trying to "imagine" deeds of the future; they trusted in the America that they love so much that it would grow and overcome all that limited it.

So no, Abe Lincoln would not be surprised if he were able to see Barrack Obama become President. He would be enormously proud, and humbled by his role, but he would be the first to glorify God and also the country, the scope and potential of America, for being the real reason that anything good such as this is possible. Remember, Abe Lincoln himself was a "surprise" as President, coming from a humble and poor log cabin upbringing, working through law school as people did back then (by reading and apprenticing, not paying huge tuition) and most of all, he had no military experience. So Lincoln himself was a "surprise" as a President, and he would feel a kinship with Barrack Obama based on that aspect of their similar upbringings and early careers.

From his second inaugural address:

...Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward one, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves and with all nations.

Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865.