Today, on what would have been Abraham Lincoln’s 210th birthday, it feels as though we in the United States are as divided as ever. People on both sides are afraid of what the other believes and where they will take us. Are those fears justified? Or are they being stoked? Are we being manipulated into believing the worst in each other?
What would Lincoln think of his beloved Union today?
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.ABRAHAM LINCOLN, House Divided Speech, Springfield, Illinois June 16, 1858
We may not be half slave and half free anymore, at least in 19th century terms, but we are half left-wing and half right-wing. And propaganda has been pushing us further apart. Could the Union be dissolved? Could the house fall?
If we have learned anything in the past couple of years it is that we are being manipulated. Troll farms, bots, and influence campaigns are all the modern tools of propaganda. The more we learn about how sophisticated and extensive the manipulation has been, the less we trust anyone. We no longer know who to believe. And yet many of us are still sure that we are right. We know who the good guys are and who are out to get us. In a society awash in propaganda how do we know what’s true?
Believe that truth exists. Not everything the media reports is propaganda. Be discerning. If credible evidence emerges that challenges your notions of what is true, be courageous enough to admit that you are wrong. This is a tough one. It’s easy to tell yourself that they are the ones that are wrong. They are the ones that need to suck it up and see the truth. But what if I am being blind myself. What if I am wrong? Am I brave enough to admit it? If neither side can admit when they are wrong then we will never come together as a nation. Is that what we want? Are we the ones that are going to let this grand experiment fail? Are we going to let this government of the people, by the people, and for the people perish from the earth? I wonder what words of wisdom Abraham Lincoln would have for us today.