December 18, 2012 5 Comments
“The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use.” Abraham Lincoln
The music was playing yet it seemed as if the theater was totally quiet. The movie had ended and the credits were rolling on
the screen yet no one spoke, no one moved, no one got up to leave – everyone sat silently staring at the screen, not even turning to look at whoever they had come to the movie with. Finally, as the credits began to end, one by one people began to get up from their seats and head for the theater lobby, again in total silence. I turned and looked at my wife and she was in tears and I understood instantly what impact this film had had on her. For myself I was angry, very angry.
This film will certainly join “Schiendler’s List,” the other great Spielberg film, as one of the best motion pictures of all time. It is a powerful piece of cinematic story telling and I’m sure the quality of the experience had something to do with the audience’s reaction. However, my belief is that what stunned the audience was the contrast between real, principled presidential leadership with the lack thereof from the current occupant of the Oval Office, and for that matter most of the recent occupants.
“Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.” Abraham Lincoln
In this portrayal of only a small portion of Lincoln’s tenure as President, Spielberg artfully and with great emotion presents a profile in courage, leadership and values of arguably one of our greatest Presidents. Lincoln remained focused on restoring the union and fulfilling the promise made with the Constitution to provide equality for all people regardless of race. He accomplished both by facing the problem and the opponents head-on and always from a place rooted in faith in God and universal principles of right and wrong. He wasn’t trying to transform America, he was trying to restore America.
What we saw from the brilliant performance by Daniel Day-Lewis was an authentic, heroic President that inspired and empowered the people. This man, Abraham Lincoln, was tuff, sensitive, caring, wise, powerful and smart – he was an authentic man who knew what he had to do even when no one agreed with him. Did he have shortcomings, certainly and these are woven into the story and the performance. But above all he was a man for the time. A man for all times.
The movie inspired me to reacquaint myself with Abraham Lincoln, to learn who he was and how he became the President. I downloaded and listened to a historical podcast by Michael Medved, “The Real Lincoln.” What amazed me was how incongruous it was for Mr. Lincoln to have been elected President. Mr. Lincoln was a “common man” and as it turns out that is exactly what was needed at that time in the history of our country. He was a man of courage and purpose and not your typical politician. His goal was to serve the people and to empower them to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens.
It was this stark contrast between the authentic leadership of Lincoln with the current crop of self-centered, power hungry politicians that brought the tears to my wife’s eyes and the anger to my heart. How could we let this happen? To trade our liberty for token bits of security from Mother Government? Why has the country, the majority of citizens turned away from the ideals of the Founding Fathers and now look to the government to take care of them? Lincoln fought heavy odds to preserve and strengthen the principles of personal liberty and responsibility, in contrast Obama, the Democrats and most of the Republicans (especially the career politicians) want to impose their ideology and their all-powerful central planning vision on us.
Sitting in that auditorium drinking in the power of the film I felt the anger boil up. The anger that my fellow citizens have fallen so far from what I judge to be the best governing structure ever created by man, the United States Constitution!
Go see this movie, own this movie, make sure your children and grandchildren watch this movie. I know it’s hard but we must stand up as Lincoln did and do the right thing, to restore liberty, to reclaim the Power for the People.
“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Abraham Lincoln