Lincoln

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863After many failed attempts to see Spielberg’s Lincoln, yesterday’s snow day and resulting cancelled commitments finally gave me the chance to see it.  Steve and I were two of only six people in the theater for the late afternoon show, so there was no popcorn crunching to mask the amazing surround sound of life in the 19th century.  Of course it was brilliant, and Daniel Day-Lewis was, well he will be Lincoln for me ever more.  Even though I knew how every event would end…I was emotionally exhausted afterwards.  The rancor of the debate in the House of Representatives had no less vitriol and was no less divisive than today…except that they were more honest about what they really thought of one another, and the name calling was much more colorful.  It was difficult to watch how horrific the war was, and the strain and toll it took on our nation, and but for a vote and abstention, we might look like a very different country today.  I was also sad to see that there were as many stunts performed to delay and trip up the proceedings to manipulate the outcome as there are in present time.  Good leadership will always make the difference…and I pray for it every day.  They should make this movie mandatory for every member of the House and Senate…because we shouldn’t have to repeat mistakes, and I think most importantly, reinvent history.

I don’t think most Americans truly appreciate how much arguing and frustration there was in the dawn of this country’s existence when it came to hammering out the Constitution that guides us.  It is a fluid document, bitterly fought for since its inception, when compromise was the theme, messy as it was when no one got exactly what they wanted.  And when presidents like Lincoln saw the need to expand it even further to better guide and instruct this ever developing experiment called democracy, he did what was necessary…even at great cost.  That was probably the most significant element that I took away from the film, he was fully and completely aware of what the cost was….and how far men will go to stop change.  For those of you who saw the movie, do you remember the part when a delegate posed the question, (as his reason for initially voting no..) “What will happen if the negro wins the right to vote?”  and everyone yelled…and then he continued “what next? what will you do if women get the right to vote”  And the everyone went ballistic.  It seems silly how much fear that possibility caused.  Perhaps 150 years from now, the things we are fearful of today will seem just as silly…

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