Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lincoln as Thanksgiving Role Model

How's this for a teaser? In 1863, in the depths of the Civil War, Lincoln proclaimed the very first Thanksgiving holiday. Like, the nation dissolving like snow in spring and he was into thanking - WHAT PLANET DID THIS MAN LIVE ON?

Want a Thanksgiving role model? Try Abraham Lincoln.
Look at how Lincoln treated the troops. He thanked them, he encouraged them, he affirmed them. They were simple farm boys, most of them illiterate, and they were interrupting their lives in a fairly profound way, and all because of the following principle of Constitutional law: any attempt unilaterally to abrogate a multilateral contract is invalid in law. Not only did Lincoln enunciate the North's war aims in terms these farm boys would fight to maintain but he also thanked them for joining in the fight.
And he got out of the ivory tower of the White House to do it. He visited them - particularly during those first 24 months when Robert E. Lee and his dazzling cohorts ran rings around that bungling giant known as the North, Lincoln encouraged them, he reminded them that preserving the Union was a cause worth the sacrifice.
He led by example (does leadership come in any other guise?) - that first Thanksgiving gave thanks for an idea of democracy that was very much in doubt, what he once called "the last, best hope of earth."

We could do with following his example. Democracy is  threatened in our day by our abiding addiction to rancor, an addiction every bit as corrosive in our day as the threat posed by an attempt at dissolution by a vastly determined foe in Lincoln's day. Let us give thanks in our day as Lincoln did in his, for an abiding idea - "I want every msn to have a chance!." And let us in our day, as Lincoln in his day, give thanks to those in our circle who do the grunt work to make that ideal a reality. And finally, let us in our day, as Lincoln in his, give practical expression to the astounding thing he said when he won the Presidency in 1860: "In all our rejoicing let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let us all all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feelings."
Think of it: 21st century Democrats (they all bash the rich) and 21st century Republicans (they all bash the poor) actually listening to one another -that should hit all of us where we live!

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