Morning Tash Appreciators,
The Oscars last weekend have finally given me the opportunity to cover a topic which has been on my mind for a few weeks now: Lincoln.
What interests me most about Abraham Lincoln is not what he did while he was President. To be sure, his achievements were incredible, and we might live in a very different world had he not been President. However, those kinds of achievements are beyond the reach of most of us. What I find interesting is his outlook on life and the way he conducted himself.
In the film, we see the approach that comes naturally to most of us in moments of anger and frustration. Thaddeus Stevens, in his speech about whether men are, or are not, created equal says this:
How can I hold that all men are created equal when here before me stands, stinking, the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio? Proof that some men are inferior. Endowed by their maker with dim wits, impermeable to reason, with cold pallid slime in their veins instead of hot red blood. You are more reptile than man George, so low and flat that the foot of man is incapable of crushing you.
Although an excellent put-down, saying that someone was a lesser man just because he was wrong wasn’t Lincoln’s way. Little more than a month before his assassination, as the end of the Civil War drew close, Lincoln was inaugurated as President for a second time. The War had caused over a million casualties and the hostility between the two parts of the country was obvious. However, Lincoln ended his inauguration speech with this:
With malice toward none; 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.
Perhaps we cannot all aim to bind the wounds of nations but we can act with malice towards none and charity to all. What I find interesting is that Lincoln doesn’t give those who have committed wrongs a free pass. He’s not advocating that the electorate turn the other cheek. No, he’s concerned about having “firmness in the right”.
If someone is wrong, like those who opposed abolishing slavery, an opposing view will probably not change their minds. That’s human nature. All you can do is uphold your own standards i.e. the “right”.
What I’m trying to say is that we will all come across those who will infuriate and offend us. They will be wrong to act the way they do. However, the thoughts of those who are wrong should not divert us from what we know is right.
I’ll leave you with a final thought from Lincoln. This was from his first political announcement:
Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed.
I may not end up being arguably the greatest President there has ever been, but if I take any lesson from Lincoln, it will be that it is the respect of my equals – those who share my views of right and wrong and whom I respect – that will determine whether I have been a success or not. The rest is just background noise about which I could not care less.
Anyway, the Tash. It can only be one man. Triple Oscar winner and the actor who brought Lincoln to the silver screen: Daniel Day-Lewis:
Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope you enjoy it.
For god’s sake, keep going!