“You’re blinkin, Lincoln.”
In our house, it’s what we say to alert the other their phone is signaling it has something to say besides ‘hello’.
I reaffirm prior confessions. “Hi, my name is Dan and my smart phone is smarter than I am.”
It really is. It sports all manners of tones, vibrations and indicator lights by which to alert me to texts, voice messages, email, your activity on the blog as well as timely warnings from the National Weather Service that I’m about to sucked up by a whirlwind and taken to Kansas. So many wanting to be sure I know they’re trying to tell me something. So little time.
Much the same can be said for all the noise in our national discourse in the days since the fateful torch lit march in Charlottesville (VA) a week ago Friday night (8/11/17) and what has come after.
Statues of dead generals have come alive like clashing cymbals around free speech, civil rights and what being American means. Many viewpoints to be sure, but even without consulting the Wampanoag or Nauset tribes, I contend all of them are not equal.
Let me put this another way. If you and I found ourselves in a courtroom, would we be swayed by a self-professed arsonist arguing the injuries suffered when everyone stampeded for the exits had nothing to do with them because they were protected by their First Amendment right to stand in the back of the theater and yell ‘Fire!’ Free speech, right?
No. I think not.
We, as participants in this living, breathing experiment of self-determining democracy are once again being called upon to set the norms for what is acceptable behavior for us as a group.
Imagine the chaos if we each exercised our freedom of choice and drove on whatever side of the road suited us that morning? Experience has taught us that when, as a collective, we agree to the rules of the road, everyone’s life gets easier in going about the business of pursuing Life, Liberty and getting to work on time without the assistance of paramedics.
Lincoln famously quipped “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better”.
Commendable. But how do you get to know someone delivering Third Reich salutes and born the same year J.K. Rowling’s 4th Harry Potter book hit bookstores? I start by forgiving them.
“But they don’t know me or even want to know me…”
It’s OK. Forgive them anyway.
Turning the other cheek and any other form of non-violent protest is not rolling over as you surrender your convictions. You’re not quitting when you forgive someone. Lincoln knew it long before we did when he said something about first making sure you put your feet in the right place and then, standing firm. When you forgive, you’re not only standing on solid ground, you are actually draining the ‘feed’ Hatred needs to breed. It sucks to do evil…so much work!
Robbing bigotry of its oxygen is a gritty, grisly business. How do we as soldier citizens find the will to fill the gaps in Love’s line when the neighbor beside us falls? We forgive. And then we step up – again. Another falls. We forgive. We step up and then, we do it again. One guy even talked about doing it 70 x 7. Craziness!
Cowards call this kind of resolve suicide. Such willingness to stand up and be counted baffles them. But eventually, they do get tired of hating with no return on their investment, gradually wilting in the face of the courage, the true armor of genuine forgiveness.
Forgiveness, true forgiveness is all about love. It has no interest in either denying history or in rewriting it. It is all about our resolve to resist, persist and insist on loving one another like we want to be treated in kind, being willing to sacrifice in the doing. Radical, right?
I can’t solve the nation’s issues. No one expects me to. But what we can do is show up at home, at work or in the line at the grocery store with a moral compass pointing to compassion, strength and love. Despots and arsonists hate that. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but knowing they feel that way is sometimes enough to get me through to the other side of temporary darkness.
Eventually, I believe all will be made plain to each of us. But in the meantime, if any of what I’ve said has you blinkin, I suspect it’s your inner Lincoln.
I was tempted to close with Tina Fey’s SNL skit, Let Us Eat Cake, but as luck would have it, found myself listening to Josh Groban’s version of this famous anthem from Carousel early this morning. So I went out and found a really cool version of the same by Gerry & the Pacemakers to share here. It was new to me and may just surprise you too. Walk strong for me this week. I’ll be doing the same for you.
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
Blue Orb (Source): http://www.volvoab.com/image/blue-orb/blue-orb-by-minz; Face of White Nationalism https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/08/12/torch-white-nationalist-charlottesville-virginia-uva-nazi-slogan/23075445/#slide=6843152 (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images); Lincoln quote: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/5989-i-don-t-like-that-man-i-must-get-to-know; “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“, the 4th book in the series by J. K. Rowling released in the UK and the US – July 8, 2000 (SOURCE): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire;
BONUS PLAY: Josh Groban’s PBS performance Stages Live “You’ll Never Walk Alone” | December 2015 | : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCTo04Yc1IY
Closing Graphic – Lincoln Weeps: Original Source: Grieving Lincoln by Bill Maulden, Chicago Sun-Times, November 23, 1963.
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