It’s a bit hard to know where to start reflecting on the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The internet is not short of commentary and analysis on how we got here, what it means and what could or should happen next. And the new President will no doubt have plenty to say on what taking up this office means.
The 44 presidents who preceded Trump have been a mixed bag (not mixed in term of gender of course, and barely mixed in terms of race, and probably not many who weren’t rich) with different approaches to the presidency, and very different priorities for office. But they must all have been driven and determined to end up as Presidents.
There is a notable difference in the reason for that determination. Many leaders in history have been so committed to a cause that they had to take it as far as they could; whilst others were primarily driven by personal ambition for high office. The 16th President, Abraham Lincoln was rather a different character than the 45th.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Seeking only to serve ourselves and those who are like us is not a calling, it does not have the hallmark of vocation – God’s charge to go beyond the convenient, comfortable and desirable to care for the outcast and stranger. Lincoln’s journey to the presidency was shaped by his commitment to educate and liberate the people of America, and to fight for this cause to the best of his ability.
“I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”
For Lincoln it was not, first of all, about high office. It was not about being a winner so that others could be identified as losers and haters; indeed Lincoln was dedicated to healing the gulf between north and south.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Of course Lincoln never had the temptation of twitter, but his advice seems particularly apt for high profile tweeters:
“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.”
I could go on quoting Lincoln for some time, he was the source of many quotable quotes, but this one seems particularly apt for the day that’s in it:
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
Sitting on blisters seems like a good time to find out what really matters, who we are, and who God has made us to be.
All quotes are Abraham Lincoln, from Goodreads, author quotes.