“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” – Abraham Lincoln, Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.
These words have been taped to my monitor since 2004, and while the paper’s a little faded, they still cut through the air like a hatchet-blade, bending light like a prism, through which I can see the shock-and-loss of those darkest days, and the more vivid palette of this hopeful time.
The fulcrum for the passage is the word disenthrall; that’s what we’ve had to do over the past few years: let go of old ways, get smarter and slyer, no longer falling for the comfort of old lies we tell ourselves and each other. We’ve fought a wily enemy, and this feels like a win. But the campaign continues, we’re still battling on ground both old and new.
We’re in that moment where the roller coaster crests the hill after an endless climb. Thrilling. Terrifying. Full of risk and opportunity. And possibility is so much scarier than punishment.
I’m the original oh-oh-Obamalite (we’re like the Brides of Christ, only with gimlet grins and Emma Peel boots), but I’ve never seen him as our sole saviour; he’s a man who can lead us, can ask us for for more. And I hope he does. But we’ve all got to save ourselves, save each other.
As a nation, we’ve worshipped false profits. Markets have been free, while people have not. This can change. It must change.
Hope is a virus; let’s infect the enemy.
It’s time to strip ourselves bare, to lose the armor but watch our backs.
Keep poking the wound. Be open, be vulnerable, be willing to risk, to serve, to fuck it up, to be real with each other.
Talk to strangers, but don’t fall for bullshit. Love thy neighbor and kick a little ass, in appropriate measure.
Know our minds, speak our piece, keep trying to see through through others’ eyeballs.
It’s a highwire act of radical devotion, of knowing patriotism: Mainline the joy and hope, but pay attention. Make sacrifices. Stay involved. Expect more from everyone, including ourselves.
Thanks to Sully for posting the quote this morning—sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of us.