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30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 21

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. — 1861


My Take – This is possibly the ugliest national election I’ve ever seen, and we’re not even in the home stretch, where desperation will bring new lows.  The danger in this is that the rancor will keep ramping up after the election.  We must remember that we are Americans, no matter which lever we pull in the voting booth.  We can disagree, we can argue, we may even fight, but we cannot lose sight of that.  When we forget our connections to each other, we risk consequences as dire as the country faced in 1861.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 20

…resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. — 1850


My Take – Integrity is everything.  In addition to being honest in what you say and what you do, integrity also includes giving good value for your wages.  When you find yourself no longer able to give your employer or your business everything it deserves in exchange for your paycheck, then it’s time to find something else to do.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 19

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 a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. — 1865

My Take – I sometimes wonder how different our history would be if Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated.  Would he have been able to rein in the Radical Republicans who made Reconstruction so harsh?  Would his “let them up easy” plan for the South have headed off generations of bad blood?

You’ll notice that he didn’t say that the country should only care for Union veterans, widows, and orphans, but seemed to include those who had been harmed on the Confederate side as well.  Lincoln didn’t seem to be looking to punish the South for the war, and I think one of the worst mistakes made in our history was for the North to get its pound of flesh from the South once the fighting had stopped.

In much the same way, when we win a fight or an argument, we should be generous and polite in victory.  Once the opponent has agreed that the fight is over and that they have lost, there is nothing to be gained by rubbing their noses in it, and much to lose when their anger motivates them to rekindle the fight.  We may never fully convert those who disagree with us, but neither should we encourage their antipathy.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 18

The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. — Speech in Congress, 1848

My Take – Nothing we do is 100% good or bad.  The trick is to try to only do the things that do more good than ill.  I don’t expect my politicians to be saints, but I do expect them to be honest about their flaws and not be stupid.  When someone comes to you with some proposal, you have to ask three questions – Who benefits? Who will be harmed? What’s the end goal?  If they can’t give you a satisfactory answer to all three of those questions, and quickly at that, they either don’t know what they’re doing or they’re hiding something.  It’s up to you to figure out which one.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 17

I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me. — Letter, 1838


My Take – Sometimes I look at Irish Woman and ask her what she was thinking.  Look, I know I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, and I’m sometimes harsh or moody.  OK, maybe sometimes is an understatement.  There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not surprised that she not only took an interest in me and my brood, but also that she didn’t run screaming into the night.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 16

I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal — equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this they meant.  — 1858

My Take – Racism or whatever -ism is one of the more ignorant things I can learn about someone.  I judge people by their actions, not their inherited traits.  If you’re a black man who takes care of his business and stays out of mine, I have no fight with you.  If you’re a white man who makes his life my problem, then you’re a jerk, and will be treated accordingly.  In other words, I sort the sheep from the goats individually, and don’t pay attention to which field they came out of.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 15

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. — 1862

My Take – Flexibility and openness to good criticism and new ideas are the key to success in just about anything.  I won’t compromise core principles like ‘Women and children first!’, but I will listen when someone tells me I’m messing up or shows me a different path that still leads to a desired goal.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 14

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. — 1863

My Take – I can’t really add much to this.  We don’t make days like Independence Day or Memorial Day sacred. That was done long before we were born.  It is our task to take the rights and privilege that have been handed down to us and make something out of them.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 13

No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small per centage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive. — 1859

My Take – 51% of Americans don’t pay taxes.  Over 100 million of us are on some form of government assistance or another.  Entire sections of the economy are on life support through government funding.  We shouldn’t have gotten to this point in the first place, and there is no way we can sustain it for much longer.  We’re already at the point where the government is having to buy its own bonds to fund these things, but how long can the snake eat its own tail?

We have to come to grips with this soon, or no amount of last-minute belt tightening and economic hardship will be enough.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 12

The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. — 1848


My Take – If the president has the ability to send troops to make war wherever and whenever he wants to, then he will start to assume the ability to use them to suppress dissent wherever and whenever he wants to.  The way it’s supposed to work is that the State Department fails in diplomacy, the President requests a declaration of war, and Congress votes on it.  If the war resolution passes both houses, then the President prosecutes the war under congressional oversight.

What seems to be happening recently is that the press sees something they find objectionable, they broadcast it far and wide at the top of their lungs, the President wants to look presidential, so he and the Secretary of State lambast it, play to the domestic and foreign markets, and eventually send in the Marines or Air Force so that they look like they’re in control of the situation.  Only rarely do they consider whether or not intervention is in the best interest of the United States, and only slightly more often do they go to Congress for even a milk toast authorization of force.  Every time they do it, they erode the power to declare war and constrain the President from waging war on a whim.

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