Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Disunion: If They Could Talk To Us Now, Would It Matter?

                                                 If They Could Talk to Us Now



Various Founders and Former Presidents Talking

George Washington: “How I grieve for my children! It is more than I can bear to look down on them in such needless anguish! Did I not warn them that ‘If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter?’ Did I not state ‘When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly?’ I did not ask to lead the Continental Army. I did not want to be president. I only wanted to go back home to Mount Vernon. But I tell you, how I wish I could go back and help them now!”

Thomas Jefferson: “Can they not know that ‘All men are created equal?’ Can they not see that ‘Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals?’  Have they lost complete the concept of Natural Law? I fear they no longer study the history of governments. ‘Lethargy is the forerunner of death to the public liberty.’ It pains me no end to observe such madness. And the universities, including my dear University of Virginia? They preach intolerance and hate, even as they purport to do the opposite. What became of logic, rhetoric, and rigorous debate? Do they not recall my pledge: ‘I have sworn on the altar of God, eternal hostility to all forms of tyranny over the minds of man?’”

John Adams: “When I said, ‘Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide,’ I meant it not literally in our case, but as a precautionary warning to be ever vigilant! ‘Posterity!  You will never know how much it cost our generation to preserve your freedom!’  I had hoped they would have made better use of it.”

Ben Franklin: “How I wish we could make them see that ‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.’ We gave them a republic. Sadly, it looks as though they can no longer keep it.”

Robert E. Lee: “I said once, ‘There is a terrible war coming…I tell you, I wish that I owned every slave in the South, for I would free them all to avoid this war.’ I fear there is another terrible war coming. I also said, ‘I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object obtained.’ But, looking on them now, all these years later, tearing down statues and toppling monuments to history, is more than…I can…bear. ‘A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today. Remember, we are all one country now. Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring them up to be Americans.’ But, alas, they cannot hear me.”

U.S. Grant: “I wish I could simply tell them all to ‘Lay down their arms and go home.’ Not that they’d listen. ‘The most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticized.’ You know, ‘If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.’ My men and I did not fight to see this day come.”

Abraham Lincoln: “I had some dark days in office, but I don’t know if I ever was as pained as I am now. Perhaps if they had someone to tell them the truth, someone they believed was honest, maybe that person could inspire them, heal their divisions, lead them back home again. I never liked speechifying all that much, but how I wish I could go talk to them one more time. {Straightens up, turns, as if to give an address. His lips move again, but his words are barely audible}: ‘Twelve score and one year 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. Seven score and fourteen years ago, they fought on hallowed ground at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to determine whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We dedicated a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives there that that nation might live, and that others might be free. It was altogether fitting and proper that we did so. It is not for you now, to detract from it, to desecrate it. The world must never forget what they did there.  Now we are again engaged in a civil war, one that will determine whether government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall long endure- or perish from the earth, never to return again.’ {Turns again, facing the others, tears streaming down his face}. It saddens me beyond words that it now appears all of our dead have- ultimately- died in vain.”

{They all link arms now. Somewhere a bugle sounds. They sing together, softly, in unison, for the union:}

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on…

I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
‘As ye deal with my condemners, so with you My grace shall deal!’…

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!”…



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