I have always been a history buff. It was tied for my favorite subject in school with Enhlish, for a variety of reasons. I think in order to understand our present, we need to understand our past as well, warts and all. Our current political climate is incredibly divisive, which harkens back to the days before the Civil War, as Lincoln desperately tried to hold the country together.
I don’t pretend to know as much as a historian or researcher, but I am an avid reader and intrepid explorer. When I take an interest in a subject, whether it’s American society immediately before the Civil War or the sex lives of insects (praying mantises rock!) or women’s roles in the gilded age, I am incredibly tenacious. I read everything I can about that particular subject-and then some. One of the great things the Internet has brought forth is the ability to research at my fingertips. If I can, I will add personal visitation to the list, but my current life situation makes it harder. One day I’ll be able to hit the road and explore, but right now that’s not the day.
I went through a period several years ago when I became fascinated with Abraham Lincoln’s writings. The Jedi was studying him in school, and had to recite the Gettysburg address. I was helping him practice, and we ventured into the black hole that is YouTube to find videos of others presenting it.
My mistake, because I found dozens of videos discussing other speeches and letters Lincoln had generated in his lifetime. Many of these I had never heard of during my educational years, which is a shame because this man was a brilliant wordsmith. Whether or not you agree with his politics is irrelevant. He strung words into sentences brilliantly. Today, we have pundits and writers and pollsters crafting our politicians’ words to a target audience. I highly suspect that is not the case with Lincoln.
If you read Lincoln’s Lyceum address and how it discusses the death of a black man near St Louis, you may be hard pressed to consider the year. Is it Ferguson or something else? So much of the turmoil during Lincoln’s lifetime seems to be repeating itself today.
I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of our time.
His speech could be ripped from today’s headlines.
Currently, several southern states are attempting to limit the civil rights of those they consider to be morally inferior. These pieces of legislation set up an us versus them mentality, with all sorts of fear mongering and hate speech rousing the troops. A century and a half ago, this region used the same arguments to justify slavery. While I’m not comparing LGBTQ discrimination to slavery, although both are reprehensible and are designed to subjugate and dehumanize others. Many of those who are supporting discrimination are using the Bible as justification…like slave owners a century ago.
I only hope that my fellow Americans take a few minutes to review history before we are doomed to repeat it this election cycle.