Abraham Lincoln is one of my heroes, and I make no apologies for that. I am aware of his flaws, both personal, and political. I do not demand perfection of a hero; rather, when I consider someone a hero, it means I am responding deeply and passionately to that person’s accomplishments and integrity. Jerry Garcia, in discussing punk rock, remarked, “What’s important is what the music says, not what it doesn’t say.” A valid standard, in my opinion, to apply to both art, and our understanding of historic characters.
Yes, I know; I’m sounding a little bit defensive. It is hard not to. In the milieu of contemporary science fiction, the pressure is constant to fall into line on a whole series of issues–issues that, as anyone who has followed my blog knows, I disagree with strongly. I do not believe in fighting for a “kindlier, gentler” capitalism; I do not believe in separating the Working Class into disparate pieces and setting them against each other; I do not believe in fighting for increased prosperity among those who are already more prosperous than 90% of us.
I do believe in equality–in equality of opportunity for education, health care, standard of living, and, yes, personal expression. In equality of whom and how one might love, and, of course, equality before the law. Lincoln led a part of the human race in taking a huge step forward in the fight for equality, and I honor him for that. One hundred and fifty years ago today, he made it clear (though this, perhaps, is the least significant aspect of the Address) that he did so knowing exactly what he was doing.
The fight for equality goes on. My contributions to that fight are insignificant, involving a few blog posts that are unlikely to change anyone’s mind, and maybe–maybe–by telling the truth as best I see the truth, the creation of a story now and then that helps people understand their world a tiny bit better. Not much, but it is what I do, and I make no apologies for that, either. As far as I do anything at all, I do not fight for the advancement of one section of the Working Class (and certainly not for a section of the “people” regardless of class!), but for the equality of all human beings, because I believe that is the right thing to do.
If you want to know who is working against equality, look at those who hate Lincoln and you will have a pretty good idea. The Right Wingers who run as far and as fast as possible from him because he took a stand for freedom, to the pseudo-Leftists who love finding reasons to tear him down because he took action that challenges their comfortable ideas, flowing, generally, from their comfortable lives.
Among those who fought for equality, Abraham Lincoln stands out as a hero, and the Gettysburg Address stands out as a shining example of a critical moment in that fight. For a good analysis of what it means today, in general, try this. But for me, personally, it stands as inspiration. Yes, the fight is worth fighting. And yes, in the fight to build a better future, there are heroes.