Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. In years past, it's been relatively easy to overlook this date, especially since Lincoln's birthday and George Washington's birthdays got jumbled together into one observation, President's day, for the convenience of workers everywhere.

When did we become too busy, too modern, too thoughtless to allow for the recognition of these transcendent men on days of their own? When did the significant, but truly individual guidance of these men cease to have value on their own?

On this historical anniversary, take a moment to consider the life of Abraham Lincoln. He endures, not just for the way he met challenges in his career that had never before been faced. He endures, I believe, because we feel he remained like us; flawed but doing our best to forge ahead into the unknown, because to stop is unthinkable.

Look at this man, how a short four years of agonizing choices is plainly written on his face. The top photo was taken in 1861, thought to be the first photo of Lincoln as president. The second, taken in 1865, is the last known portrait before his death.

Today, spend a little time at the Smithsonian's online exhibit, Abraham Lincoln, An Extraordinary Life. Read some of the articles and commentary at CNN's From Lincoln to Obama pages.

Perhaps one day we'll recognize Obama as one of those better angels, that remains to be seen. It is enough today, to know that better angels of our nature have existed and will continue to exist, for humanity could not survive without them.


Shannon said...

Lovely post. :) Today is also the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, which I think is also a big deal. And, as for Obama, he is giving a talk in the building right next to Nathan's at Caterpillar today. I think that is cool, and it's too bad Nathan won't get to go watch.

Wendy said...

Darwin, yes also important. I may have a few words for him too.