Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unfinished Work

It's amazing to think of all the change this nation has endured during the past century and a half. Back then, there was no such thing as the internet! Jeez, how were people able to post their selfies to Twitter back then? (/snark)

One can only wonder what then President Abraham Lincoln would have posted to Twitter and Facebook. Yet seven score and a decade ago, President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address made news without being spread all over social media. While many things have changed in the past 150 years, this speech reminds us of what's constant.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

While we're not literally at war with each other, it sometimes feels like the Civil War never really ended. After all, the Republican Party is now plagued by epic infighting. And the overall nation can't seem to escape this Culture War that the 21st Century Know Nothings are determined to win (despite everyone else recognizing they're losing).

Why is this happening? Is it due to underlying geographic loyalty? Is it because of economic turmoil that's fanning the flames of xenophobia? Is it simply because some still refuse to accept the final outcome of the Civil War? Why has it been so difficult for this nation to move forward and embrace the future?

History often tends to repeat itself. We can't help but think of this as major civil rights issues, like immigration reform, women's reproductive rights, and LGBTQ equality, continue to be fought over today. But as another legendary figure has reminded us, the arc of history may be long... But it bends toward justice.

There's plenty of unfinished work ahead of us. And there are plenty of bloody battlefields behind us. But right now, there is progress. That's the story of America, and that's the hope that keeps us moving forward. There's unfinished work that needs to be finished, but there's also the undying hope that it will... And determination to make it happen.

Now, about that selfie we just saw on Instagram...

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