Thursday, March 5, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's Impact on My Thoughts

Today was my friend's birthday, and so, we decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery, where they have special exhibit honoring Abraham Lincoln.

As I read about his life as president, and looked at the pictures, I couldn't help but think of what principles his life laid bare. He was committed to "a universal rights of men", as "all mean were created equal". He felt he was the "bearer" of our Founding Father's vision. And though he did not want to see the inevitable conflict between the North and the South, he lived to see the conflict end in "war". But, the end of the war resulted in his vision, and he got to pronounce the "abolition of slavery".

His life was cut short by an assasin's bullet, just after his second inaugeration. His assasin did not see that the "war had won" any better society, he only saw a man that stood in the way to his way of life.

I found myself reflecting back over one of my professor's musing over Lincoln's life. In his opinion, Lincoln created a centralized government. He did not give room for a division over slavery, as he was committed to unity. States had no right over the "United States". Federalism was born. But, the problem with centralization of government is the balance of power, which the states bring. Each state is given senators (equal representation) and representatives (numerical represetation) to help give an equal opportunity to the state's interests and the people's interests. The federal government is composed of these diverse interests. But, what happens, as in our world today, when global interest play into our sphere of concern?

These prinicples are not easy ones to address, as people are convinced differently as to which "side" is best. Do states have rights at the costs of federal interests? (think education, or other laws)...the same principle holds true for the individual and society. Do individuals have rights against corporate, society or group interests? Where do we draw our lines, and understand how these rights and interests intersect?

There is no simple solution to these concerns, as there is no balance of power as it concerns the world scene. And there is no divying up the different interests groups, when nations, cultures, and interests, collide. Religion only complicates these concerns to those seeking solution for unity. The fundamentally zealous are not open to diversity, where it concerns unity. Bad news for political solutions.

I don't know enough about foreign policy or international relations to come to any conclusion. I am reading, listening and learning. Any opinions or comments are welcome.

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