How Would Lincoln Advise Us?
This has been the most disturbing American election in my memory. A lot has come up – the widening gap between rich and poor, racial injustice, our collective lack of healthy sexuality as a culture, misuse of governmental position, the demonizing of opponents, and much more . . . The good news is that a lot of what needs work and healing has risen to the surface. Lincoln-style honesty and respect could foster healing that could then lead to something much better for everyone.
In the Tao te Ching, the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu had a lot to say about true leadership:
A sound leader’s aim
Is to open people’s hearts
Fill their stomachs,
Calm their wills,
Brace their bones,
And clarify their thoughts and cleanse their needs
That no cunning meddler could touch them . . .
Lao-Tzu, Tao te Ching
There are a lot of gray areas this election, but the spirit with which we move is more important than anything else. Fear breeds fear; disrespect falsely legitimizes disrespect; integrity inspires integrity; empathy nurtures compassion; and love makes way for love (though sometimes it is after love has been rejected – that’s when we realize how precious love is and long for it again).
Things have been much worse in America, especially during the Civil War. It’s why Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address was more of a sermon than a political speech, and why it left people speechless:
"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 lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
We can rise to this occasion as a country. We have been through much harder times and came out better for it. The main thing is to move with the right spirit.
More power to you this next week. Probably the most important thing any of us can do is pray about our vote for real, listen to the better voices inside us and then vote. In my view, the spirit with which our next president moves is by far the most important issue this election. Political pendulums swing back and forth but the framework of democracy must be woven with respect or it will unravel. And when it comes to the idea of revolution, history is clear - unless they are against outside oppression, revolutions don't redistribute wealth, they redistribute poverty. We should seek to work together not against each other. Our common interests vastly outweigh our differences.
Whatever we do, let’s move with a sense of honor - for ourselves, other people, our country and the ways of love itself. God can work with that. God always has and always will.
Thanks for journeying together.
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