A century and a half ago, as our republic began tearing our Union asunder, President Abraham Lincoln inspired a nation. He mastered an American-political style. Born on the same day as Charles Darwin, he too evolved pragmatic perspectives. Often a product of his times, Lincoln was largely self-educated, reading by candlelight. He thus became a candle, lighting the way for his countrymen and countrywomen.
Lincoln’s humanity emerged from his darkness, engendering a fruitful darkness within, from which a transcendentalist light emerged. His vision often flickered, but ultimately, he found illumination, overcoming pragmatic failings and inviting the Union of light within darkness to guide and coax America forward. Like an honest broker, his example continues to guide people around the world toward apprehending “the better angels of our nature.” Sometimes Lincoln seemed to peer through a clouded vision, yet was regularly able to exceed deeply held limitations.
Years ago, I was across the river in Alexandria, but made time to visit the District of Columbia. I seized the opportunity to make two stops; one to the Smithsonian Museum, and the other to visit the Lincoln Memorial. Standing before his likeness, I peered through my own darkness and invited his light to inspire my way forward through life. That light continues to burn away such fog as may gather within any of us.
The Memorial is hallowed ground for anyone desiring freedom and the light of human dignity. Lincoln’s presence carries the willing through passages, light and dark. In this manner, I, like so many others around our world, draw inspiration and fortitude to rediscover my own value within a greater Union.