Thursday, February 12, 2009

Some reflections on today

Image found here

Abraham Lincoln was born two hundred years ago today and I think that is worthy of recognition. I'm not one to deify Lincoln. And I'm very irritated by the efforts of some to turn him into a practicing Christian when, by his own clear assertion, he was no such thing. He was, in many ways, an ambiguous figure but he was undoubtedly a truly great man and one from whom we can still learn much. What interests me right now is the realization that he was not a black and white, all or nothing sort of thinker. He saw subtleties, nuance, shades of gray. He realized that people were mixtures and that the world does not neatly divide itself into good and evil.

Here are a few things he said that I believe are valuable for reflection and contemplation no matter what a person's belief system may be:
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.
Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.
May we ponder these words and reflect what they may mean and how they may apply to our own day.

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