Thoughts on Conflict


 Cheddar resting beside the sewing machine.

When I think of conflict, I think of President Lincoln and the wise words of temperance he shared when the nation was in conflict. Some would just as well avoid all forms of conflict, bury their heads like Cheddar is doing in the picture above. Some speak the truth and forget about being loving. Some believe they are being loving by saying nothing at all. Still, there are other situations where no answers can be found quickly.

President Lincoln’s words at his second inauguration on March 4, 1865 struck a cord in me of finding balance in difficult times.

Here are two references from President Lincoln’s inaugural speech:

Regarding the civil war he says,

“Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”

Concluding his inauguration speech with these thoughts:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The whole speech can be found at the following web site:

Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural Address

For a President who did not have a church home, many of President Lincoln’s speeches were laced with a sturdy understanding of the Bible and how to apply Scripture to everyday life. From these two sections of the Inaugural address, the sentence that stands out to me is, “The Almighty has His own purposes.”  When all goes wrong between good people with very different expectations and different viewpoints, there may be a bigger purpose neither side can see.  Taking the time to get to the deeper issue, in this case changing decades of ways of relating and of treating people badly is not easy. Facing the economic differences between how those in the North viewed slavery versus those in the South was alone a huge problem in itself to overcome. It is clear that President Lincoln used his presence, his wit, his skill, his training as a lawyer, and his words in a powerful moment to persevere in leading the nation to a new point of balance. He was able to see the bigger purpose and worked towards finding a path to lead the nation through the strife at the time, which was not an easy thing to do.

I’m not a historian, and I’m sure that there is much more analysis behind all of the events happening on March 4, 1865. I do admire how President Lincoln was able to face a difficult problem, and he was able to challenge others to see the bigger picture. I’m very grateful for his insightful words.

Other references:

The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, a Book of Quotations edited by Bob Blaisdell

Team of Rivals, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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