Sunday, February 26, 2012

Example of Lincoln again -- private thoughts contrasted with public actions

Doris Keairns Goodwin in her book Team of Rivals, depended heavily on the public actions of Abraham Lincoln in portraying a man who was strategic, political, and plodding in his efforts to steer the American ship of state and the American people towards Black emancipation and freedom from slavery. Another biographer relied a good deal more on the private reflections and letters of Lincoln.

Ronald C. White in his biography A Lincoln time and time again emphasizes how Lincoln spoke out against slavery. Yet again Lincoln did not want to dictate to anyone else that they solve their problem, their moral conflict, when he did not know himself what steps to take in ending slavery. He spoke out on the issue of slavery all during the 1850's and was elected to the Presidency in 1860. Yet between his November triumph at the polls and his March 1861 inauguration, he offered to support an amendment to the US Constitution allowing slavery to forever be acceptable in the states that were threatening secession if only slavery did not spread to the other federal territories (Kansas, Nebraska and beyond).

His actions were strategic in contrast to the deep and clear sentiments Lincoln held about slavery. Here is such a stirring quote from him in helping to make this point:

When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government — that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal," and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.

He made this argument while speaking out against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a good two years before he started debating Stephen Douglas in the 1858 Senate campaign. Lincoln seemed to have well situated himself and his moral compass. Patiently he guided this country over the 1850's and during the term of his Presidency, logically and gracefully (maybe even with a Christian grace) leading his countrymen into seeing that slavery had to be removed like a cancer in a surgical and purposeful way.

In my previous post, I suggested a hope for people's attitudes and perceptions of greed and wealth to mature into some new revolutionary understanding. I am not sure what that result will be. Over the days of this blog, I hope to explore some ideas and even attempt a method for regulating greed in our world-wide societies. The result could be revolutionary, but not within my vision to be predicted.

I am writing under a pen name. Maybe this will protect my family in case some see my ideas as too revolutionary, too threatening to the status quo. My inner thoughts may not match my actions or my blog posts. I do insist though on opening up this conversation, raising the coming questions, and inspiring the discussions that result.

All my best,
Auntie Greed

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