I wonder at Abraham Lincoln who somehow in his time found a way to educate himself and become the man he became. It is maybe a fable, but my understanding is he was largely self-taught; he read books. It has been my strong conviction that the United States would be now more united had he not been assassinated shortly after his reelection. I don’t believe I am too far off the mark when I say that the South would have been forgiven in a better way had Lincoln lived.
Forgiveness is hard. It sometimes feels wrong, like we are giving up something to forgive someone of a wrong sorely felt, and the civil war was a huge wound, still is. But to live in this world together forgiveness must be. I also think forgiveness is a mature response and the other juvenal. When will man finally grow up?
There is a scene in Spielberg’s movie Lincoln that I have spent about an hour looking for on youtube. I can’t find it, but the movie is now on Netflix and you can see it there. (about an hour and a half in) What Abraham Lincoln finally says to Mary Todd Lincoln when they are arguing about their eldest son Robert (Bob) Lincoln’s entry into the army. I won’t get the quote quite right. Mary complains that the war will take their son, and she won’t be able to forgive him. A few lines later Lincoln says that he himself must hold and carry what he must, alone, that their son Bob must make his decisions, and that she must make hers, and “bear what we must, hold and carry what we must”. That is actually a quote! “And you alone Mary, may lighten this load, or render it intolerable.”
This scene I still find amazing even watching it over and over again as I can now, and I need to read more of the Lincoln papers, which were complied into a volume by his son Robert, to see if the feelings I sense from the scene are truly Lincoln’s. What this movie did for me was take Abraham Lincoln the man down from the pedestal and make him live again, make him human, real. Usually it is the other way round.
Forgiveness is a necessity of living on one planet together. But we must also carry our own life for ourselves. We must be, no one else can do that for us, and when we grieve, as we must if we have loved, we have to go through it ourselves. This isn’t to say that communities will not be there to help, but there is only so much help they can give, no one can actually walk the road for you, feel for you, heal for you, you have to do that yourself, and sometimes alone.
Moira Levant / COCOA2.com © March 9th 2018