This is the holiday we created when we rolled the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth and that of George Washington into ONE holiday and renamed it, President's Day (to honor, among others, Millard Fillmore, the first US President to have a bathtub installed in the White House. Considering Alexander Graham Bell was years away from inventing the telephone, how long do you suppose Fillmore could have settled in for a soak before the phone rang?).
Lincoln was celebrated as a person who had made a difference in his time and whose shadow was cast through our own lives. Now, he's part of a three day weekend and we're having a White Sale (gotta love the irony!), c'mon down!
There were a huge number of issues bound up in something as simple and stark as 'slavery' but that's the headline, the casus Bellum. Dispassionate historians and anthropologists agree slavery wasn't an invention of the New World, but an extension of a practice stretching back thousand of years across the entire world. We in the USA still have not yet fully faced up to what was done by some to others. Instead of confronting and resolving, we continue to equivocate and rationalize.
In 1860, after decades of compromise and accommodation over a dozen issues that always came back to the idea of freedom vs. slavery, Abraham Lincoln, failed Congressman, failed candidate in 1858 for US Senate from Illinois, look up the Lincoln-Douglas debates if you despair about our democracy and be of good hope, was the candidate of the fledgling Republican Party and was elected to the office of the Presidency of the United States. And, practically as he was inaugurated, the United States of America already philosophically and economically divided, took up arms against itself and disintegrated.
It's bizarre that we would call the War Between the States (its official name, btw) the "Civil War" since historians agree it was often anything but. With other nations picking sides to advance their own agenda, the two sides, bloodied and bedraggled, fought one another from 1861 through the spring of 1865, when the Confederate States of America, prostrate and exhausted, surrendered and, say some, Modern America began.
What we are now is what we were then.
Provided an opportunity to begin again with 'malice towards none and charity to all' as outlined by the soon to be murdered reelected Lincoln, instead, as a nation, we veered from that path and have continued to settle old scores and create new wounds through the latter half of the 19th, all of the 20th and, now, into the 21st century.
2016 finds us on the eve of another Presidential election but from the vitriol and rhetoric that's floated for the last few months, and will continue to and through November's actual vote, you have to wonder if we've forgotten where we came from and how we got here.We cannot disagree without becoming disagreeable and when the day ends no one, wins. It's the death of dialogue and debate and a dearth of civility and kindness.
The US Presidential elections have become the Greatest Show on Earth, sorry Ringling Bros., and there's just enough time to clean up after the elephants and the donkeys in the center ring before we open the tent flaps and let the next crowd in for a show. Didja find a good parking spot? We got valet service for the high-end cars, like the Beemers, Benzs, Caddies, Lexus and (of course!) the Lincolns. Lemme get somebody to take your keys. No scratches, I promise.