Contemporary Lincoln, Part 2

Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois   

Abraham Lincoln’s Speech and how it pertains to the current situation of the United States, Part 2

As a reminder, I am working through the speech Lincoln gave in 1838 to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois sentence by sentence and putting it into current terms and meanings.  The speech picks up immediately from where it left off.

The voice of a great man on the ears of the deaf...

“How, then, shall we perform it?  At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?  By what means shall we fortify against it?  Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow?  Never!  All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trail of a thousand years.”

Only once in the short history of modern United States has there been an attack on our soil by another country’s arms.  December 7th of 1941, the Day which shall live in Infamy.   The only other attack that came upon our shores was on September 11th of 2001.  In the case of Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, it was a surprise due to a non-declaration of war.  This justified its standing as being an unjust declaration of war, something that had not been done in modern warfare.  That perhaps is the most intriguing aspect of so-called just wars, the opposing faction must tell the other state that they will be attacking.  I will take my leave of just war theory mainly because I am not entirely qualified to discuss it, but the fact remains that while well intentioned, it is pointless – the idea is to win the war, not the hearts of the state being attacked.

As to September 11th, I will refrain from conspiracy theories and details of the day, instead I will speak only to the surprise.  What happened in 1941 was the precursor to the events in 2001.  Our shores and borders are not impenetrable, but the American populace has been lulled into a sense of complacency that allows these attacks to occur.  With World War II raging in every country but ours, how could we view the attack  on Pearl Harbor with such naive eyes?  With the unrest in the Middle East (much of it we contributed to) how could we believe that no attack was inevitable?

Whether or not we participate in the unrest around the globe, we must understand that we are still involved.  Suffice to say that we are more participatory than any other country.  We have expanded our military beyond the might of all others, we have attempted to assimilate cultures (and then proceeded to leave them ignorant), we have forced our ideas and government on fledgling nations and then abandoned them.  What we lack as a country is a seriousness of commitment and fortitude.  While I am not in support of war (just or unjust), I am in support of follow through, which the previous and current heads of my government lack.

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up from amongst us.  It cannot come from abroad.  If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.  As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

This quote, this singular quote is the true essence of what our brothers and sisters in tents are truly fighting against.  They see what the rest do not, they understand that the world they grew up in is crashing down around them, they see the lies and the hate and the thievery.  We are destroying ourselves, we add to the rapidity by ignoring our greed.  Our suicide is from the drugs of materialism and commercialism.

We have become complacent with the status quo (when Marie Antoinette did that, she had her head cut off) which has allowed our personal freedoms to be overtaken by corporations.  This isn’t recent either – it’s the natural progression of the usurpation of personal rights starting back in 1819 with Dartmouth College v. Woodward and coming to its current state in 2010 with Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission.  With this final ruling, corporations were given the right to make political expenditures under the First Amendment.  And we wonder why nothing gets done in Congress?  Why everything seems to not pertain to us?  We did it to ourselves – and I’m with Gore on this one – Corporate Personhood is an infringement on the rights of actual persons.

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