An honest assessment of my adolescence is quite possibly one of the most remarkable tales of learning who you don’t want to be by experience. Never mind my many peers that could line up and tell you just about all the dumb things I said, did, or failed to do, because I’d be the first up to speak for hours, if not days, about all of these things.
What is it about an honest assessment of our past that is so difficult for us as human beings? It’s hard to admit that we didn’t get things right, we should have done things differently, or we were wrong about how we viewed certain things.
And if it is hard to give honest self-assessments, imagine how difficult it is for entire societies. It is no wonder that we are in such a tenuous place right now as the past is catching up with the present in a collision of overdue change and blissful ignorance.
So maybe it might be helpful to reexamine someone else first. Let’s say the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln is a perfect example of the complexities of his time. One of the most remarkable things about Lincoln, for all his faults and indeed all of his inexcusable historically contextual views on race, was that he was adaptable. The words and arguments of Lincoln that we read from the 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas are not the same words and stances of a man that oversaw abolitionist legislation passed.
We sat down with David S. Reynolds, the author behind Apple TV+’s new show, “Lincoln’s Dilemma,” to discuss the tensions that Lincoln might be holding together today if he were President.
Reynolds is a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has authored numerous books about Walt Whitman, John Brown, George Lippard, and Lincoln.
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Andy Hale is the creator and host of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Podcast. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy