This message from an email from The Harwood Instituteis a good message in today’s trying times.
On this President’s Day, I find myself drawn to President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, presented on March 4, 1865. It could have been written yesterday. We must heed it today.
Speaking solemnly to a nation ravaged by civil war, he said:
“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 orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
These are words we need to live by now. We must hear Lincoln’s plea. The recent impeachment proceedings, the incriminations resulting from them, the constant toxic tweets and political gamesmanship we endure daily, these and other conditions of our times leave many of us bereft, feeling defeated and deflated.
We can do better. We must do better. It’s time for each of us to step forward and bring out the best of us, the best in us.
For me, President’s Day is a reminder of the American promise, including that we must afford dignity for all, that all individuals are created equal, that each individual should have the opportunity to fulfill their God given potential, and that community is a common enterprise.
We have yet to fulfill these ideals. Indeed we must have the courage and humility to face and address the stains on our nation’s civic fabric—both those that are historic, and those that persist.
No one should be left behind. No one should be left out. We must seek to create a more hopeful, inclusive society.
On this President’s Day, you may be feeling malice toward others in our society. But don’t let it take you over. Let us agree to disagree. Let us argue vehemently for our values and different perspectives. But in doing so, let us have malice toward none.
As Lincoln implored Americans in 1865, “let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” This is what is means to make real America’s promise.
We have work to do.