Men Are Not Flattered Glenn W. Harrell 07-14-16
President Abraham Lincoln was one to forth-tell in truthfulness. The note below was to his Republican friends following the widely popular second inaugural address, and it was sent just before his assassination.
“Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose
between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny
that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told;
and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself,
I thought others might afford for me to tell it.”
The Civil War had been “won”. But Lincoln is saying that the other war, not of the North and South, of Lincoln and opponents, slave or free, but of God himself and the men who oppose him, rages on. The war had ended, yes, but the heart of man would prove to remain as conflicted and rebellious as ever. As a result, the percentages play out: infected policemen, gunmen, protesters, bankers, politicians, ministers and common citizens alike will act out their intent of greed, fear and desire for control, if not the continued slavery of others. For a country and a people, President Lincoln was certain that a new law would stop the volley of cannonball. He surmised that wars end would halt the stench of gunpowder and death on the field of battle, at least until the next war. But he was also aware that the real need for all men to be connected with the purpose of the Almighty would not likely find common acceptance in his lifetime. Therefore, as heightened potential, prejudice and slavery would continue to leech themselves to all that is man. And this potential for mankind will be in rectitude or in conflict with the Almighty God he either worships or denies. Had not the war sponsored enough prejudice born of fear and greed? What of justice born of the Almighty’s purpose that offered freedom and dignity to each person? Why had the extreme ravages of bloodshed not truly repaired the deep divide between man and the God of Lincoln? Why did such pain, death and suffering fail to cure them of self-righteous intent? As proof of hatreds stubborn virility in the human heart, the Dixie flag of war and slavery would fly until this very day. The KKK, ISIS, Al- Qaeda have their flags as well.
They all say the same thing. “My brand of hatred is justified.”
I find myself in conversation with our 16th president:
No, Mr. Lincoln, we men are not flattered. Neither are we (including SCOTUS) ashamed when the variance of common and holy presents itself and we revel in the common. If anything, we take pride in just how wrong you were and how absent God is. Thus a lasting version of the Civil war runs on as an undercurrent. Choice of destruction is no longer musket and saber, but IED, sniper and murderous terrorist. Ideologies are of the coercive variety; the ones that demand rather than merely divulge. Mr. President, men just as devoted to justice and righteousness as you have followed in your footsteps. Lest you are discouraged and too far down into the willows, they too have failed in reconstructing man’s evil bent. Educators have become more learned and we now have smarter, white collar criminals. Counselors have spent their cognitive jewels to little avail. Financiers have seen to it that we are among the wealthiest people on the planet, yet lonely, depressed and broken in the masses. Politicians and lawmakers are powerless against a man vexed by life to the place of venomous attack on the innocent. Gun makers remain hopeless in their fear of such men owning and using weapons they have created. How may we as a people become and remain civil while yet possessing such glorious freedoms as our constitution provides? You say that there is a God governing the world. How is it then that we still have wars, murder, and hatred of others because of their skin color, sexual preference, political or religious belief?
The answer: “No, Mr. Lincoln, we men are not flattered. Neither are we ashamed when the variance of common and holy presents itself and we revel in the common. If anything, we take pride in just how wrong you were and how absent God is.”
I am looking ahead to an inauguration in 2017. During the speech, man will still be plotting his course of vain independence from the Almighty Mr. Lincoln worshiped in humility. Resulting pride and selfish ambition will run in the background like a virus that hides itself from the host. Fixing blame will remain the standard protocol. Our country will weaken further, as divided as ever along political, ethical and social debate, even though politicians will market to make us “great again”.
Wars and rumors of wars belittle our supposed greatness. Songs of peace detune.
How long can we live and prosper as a country with half of us desiring the exact opposite of what the other half demands?
It appears that we will no doubt elect a new president that half of the country is thinking, if not saying, “God help us if he/she is elected”. In fact, we are already saying this about Trump and Clinton. Well, if such a prayer is sincere, it may well prove to be the humiliation President Lincoln spoke of. Might it be the missing cog in the wheel of human civility—the cure for our pride in self-sufficiency. Such prayer in humility could well take enough of the self-engineered wind out of the sails that have pushed and pulled us so far off course. Regardless of who becomes our next president, might we join Mr. Lincoln in saying?
“…and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.”