Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The ghost of Mr. Lincoln

I thought both candidates for President performed magnificently last night. John McCain's concession speech was eloquent and struck just the right tone...and his unfortunate running mate was eloquent by her silence. But last night belonged to Barack Obama. Fitting, since he defined and dominated this campaign like few other candidates have done. He gave a marvelous speech. From "hello, Chicago" to "God bless the United States of America" he truly rose to the occasion. As Peggy Noonan said on CBS -- it was "an epic moment." Watching Brian Williams interview an emotional John Lewis brought home what an extraordinarily meaningful event last night was. It was a proud moment. I could sense some of the weight of history being lifted when the Obama family walked onto that stage. The tears were genuine.

The setting and choice of words were perfect. Speaking from the Land of Lincoln, in a park named for Ulysses Grant, the decision by President-elect Obama to invoke the words of Abraham Lincoln was aptly fitting. Hearing him last night I believed he has the potential to be a Lincolnesque type leader. The words he quoted are from the closing paragraph of Lincoln's first inaugural ("Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection"). This was a speech given on the eve of the bloodiest war in American history, when Americans killed each other by the thousands over the issues of union and slavery. The eventual abolition of slavery wouldn't have happened if that young legislator from Illinois had not been willing to challenge the status quo, to say this is evil, and be willing to use the force of moral persuasion and the power of the Federal government to stand up for the voiceless and powerless.

For Barack Obama to be a leader in the mold of Lincoln, he's going to have to stand up and be counted against a great evil and injustice of our time. One that kills over 3,000 white, black and brown human beings every day. He's going to have to stand up and be counted in the fight to defend the voiceless and powerless among us. He's promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act which is a laundry list of pro-choice measures that would have the effect of sweeping away even the most modest restrictions on abortion. One of its most reprehensible aspects would be to remove legal protections from health care professionals who have moral objections to abortion. With huge majorities in Congress (we now have virtual one-party government for the next two years) there's nothing stopping the Democratic leadership from sending FOCA to our new President's desk in the first days of his administration. Signing it would be to put himself on the wrong side of the defining civil and human rights issue of our time. I hope this is one campaign promise he won't keep. We shall see.

President-elect Obama, be like Lincoln. Appeal to the better angels of our nature. Stand up for the unborn. I'm praying for you.


Anonymous said...

we shouldn't just pray for obama. we should pray for the women (and their partners) who are choosing abortions. sometimes we blame the elected officials. they aren't the ones walking into the abortion clinics, are they? even if roe v. wade were overturned, the decision would move to the states, and women could still travel to another state to get an abortion. we need to pray for a change of heart in this country. laws can only do so much...

Anonymous said...

There is a certain sense of arrogance on the part of those who believe that they can create a world without evil. I suspect that in order to create a world without it would require to get rid of ourselves. A call to humility is needed. Poverty will always be with us for as long as we continue to exist on this earth. The same case can be made for evil in the world. I have great confidence in God’s ability to get rid of evil in the world once for all. This use of bombastic language that we can get rid the world evil is beyond me. I take the view that I am limited in ability, in knowledge, in understanding and a bunch of other things. So what can I do?
I can only work to reduce evil and poverty in the world. How many children died every day around the world because of poverty? I hope that the answer to this question creates the same of outrage. I hope that the same sense of outrage for the unborn exists as it does for the living.
There is a lack of imagination in certain circles as it relates to abortion. The current strategy to eliminate abortion in this United States has failed miserably. If even, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself regarding the current law. There is no guarantee all the states would follow suit. It is ridiculous to think that making abortion would prevent people from committing abortion. What law prevents violators from disobeying it? “Thou shall commit adultery”. How many adulterers violate that law every year? The law serves as a good reminder of our depravity. Some folks would continue to have abortion even it was illegal. The goal must be to reduce the number of abortions that occurred every year rather than to eliminate abortion. With a probing imagination, we can come up with myriad of ways to do this. The current approach of perpetual confrontation needs to be rethought, and calibrated. We must be aware of the evil within us as we must for the around us. That’s why humility is so essential.

Stephen Ley said...

I recognize that in a fallen world, illegal will never be a synonym for sinful. I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion that we'll never have a world without evil. You say "I take the view that I am limited in ability, in knowledge, in understanding and a bunch of other things." I agree. I'm a Calvinist! You say "I hope that the same sense of outrage for the unborn exists as it does for the living." Me too!

Yes, moral persuasion is often more effective than legislation, but we need both. Government at its best can make a difference toward a more just and moral society through legislation and judicial decisions. Sometimes it takes a long time -- decades, even centuries. History is replete with examples. Watch the movie Amazing Grace.

Here's to praying and working (with humility) for a world in which abortion is unthinkable and all life is sacred. With his ability to inspire and formidable gifts, President-elect Obama could be a powerful force for this kind of change.