Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On Abraham Lincoln's Birthday

"Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow."
-Abraham Lincoln

...They lie upon their bellies, and they plan
The things that turn a boy into a man.
And there may be another Lincoln there
Under the freckles and the tousled hair.
-From the poem 'Another Lincoln' by Robert Tristram Coffin

I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would make of us all.
This is a year when the subject of leadership is already a well-worn path, one strewn with jagged comments and hearty promises of better days ahead. Nobody speaks of flowers now, or justice, or books, or learning, or character, or courage, or kindness or peace- not in any sense that makes this writer feel comfortable or hopeful.
Flowers? I hear you echo. Why should anybody prattle about flowers in relation to the battle of politics? Hostile exchanges should not be laced with any talk of dainty things.
Has the world changed so much since Lincoln's day that we ought not to utter a convincing, heartfelt word about the state of humanity itself? Where now is the eloquence and the human capacity for wisdom? It feels as though the impulse to appreciate imperceptible things has escaped us, and that we are reluctant to unwind our souls and orate about the things that matter most.
I will sit up a little straighter; I will listen a little more attentively and I will believe more optimistically in a light at the end of the tunnel when I hear, at last, somebody vociferating about that which we cannot see and can only feel. That includes, trivial as it may appear, the inclination to plant a flower in order to make the world a better place. It is not about one flower, but about demonstrating the proof of caring deeply for what has no obvious use for us.
I wonder, yes I do, what Lincoln would say about it all.


Anonymous said...

Lincoln already had concerns about the future when he was alive:
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it's reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” Harriet

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Thanks, Harriet. I had not known of that quote before. Lincoln was articulate and compassionate and, I think, the very best kind of President one can have. Those words are some new food for thought- thank you for sharing.

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