“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”
ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND RECOVERING AMERICA
During the start of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said; “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” We live in a similar time, of angry voices of those who seek to sway the court of public opinion, not through kind and civil debate, but through anger and acrimony. Lost is the art of creating allies, instead American leaders create fear amongst its populace.
Lincoln saw this in his time as well, angry self-interested people that propelled a nation to fight itself. Lincoln knew that no nation can stand when it fights itself. For any entity, whether it is a small family or a great nation, internal anger will always cause a fall. It is true in business, our churches, families and certainly our country.
What is remarkable about President Lincoln was he lived his own words. Many that he picked to serve with him on his cabinet had been political rivals. Salmon Chase, his opponent in his race to be president, was named by Lincoln to be Secretary of the Treasury. Chase had been a vocal opponent against Lincoln’s run to presidency, but Lincoln saw extraordinary gifts in Chase and appointed him. Lincoln said; “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
Lincoln was less interested in a person’s personal loyalty, he was more interested in their competency and loyalty to uniting America. Lincoln’s overall attitude was loyalty to our common cause, to our republic and to those who could help.
Lincoln was also a great example of the bounty America offers for the common person. He grew up in Kentucky and Indiana, the son of farmer. Lincoln never received a formal education and was self-taught. Lincoln didn’t like the traditional farm life and educated himself to become a lawyer. In his early adult years, Lincoln moved to Illinois and quickly became a highly regarded citizen, selected by a captain in his local militia at the age of twenty-two. Where he developed the nickname “Honest Abe.” Locally he was well respected.
Lincoln learned the pitfalls of angry division, as a member of the now defunct Whig party. He watch his compatriots fight over slavery and its involvement in the fight to make slave states out of Kansas and Nebraska. The debate became so acrimonious that the party became defunct in the 1850’s.
Later, Lincoln became one of the early leaders of the new Republican party. But Lincoln had seen how unproductive and selfish debate could destroy an institution, not externally but internally.
We stand today looking at our national debate, not through the lens of what is right, but what’s in it for me. We only see the dirty laundry of our debate in the headlines, while the common person, not in power, wants civil debate. We are being held captive by those in power who have caused this division.
We have a congress where new incoming members, elected by their citizenry have asked for a change in leadership. Both the leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch O’Connell, have approval ratings in the mid twenty percent. However, the voices of those who are new has gone unheard. We will still have those in power who see discord as a way of life. Discord that threatens our country. Discord built on distrust for the other side and whom is no longer able to listen.
Jesus, himself spoke twenty-one centuries ago about the dangers of this discord, when he said; “and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” We are in the midst of a slow and painful decline caused by those who speak without concern for others. Those who speak without hearing. Those who don’t know, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
The greatest thing about life is that we get to practice being who we want to be every day. Every day, we are presented with new opportunities to change lives and practice being the person God intends us to be. Every moment and every encounter we get this chance. Not be stuck in yesterday, but to create a brighter future for ourselves and others. Every day a chance to do something positive. I fully believe America wants this chance, not mired in the acrimony of the past, but a hopeful eye for our future.
Recovering America is both complex and at the same time simple. Simple in that we all need is to that of being captivated by being patriots. To put away our personal fights and become enamored with creating friendships during debate. No point is worth winning if it creates acrimony. Victories won with disrespect are fleeting.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Photo by Patrick Perkins
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