Spiritual Archetype in Action
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Spiritual Archetype in ActionThe Legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
The new film Lincoln is being hailed as one the best films of 2012. There is already Oscar buzz for Daniel Day-Lewis, who just won the “Best Actor” Golden Globe award for his role as our nation’s 16th president. But this film will grip audiences in part because it is curiously synchronistic: the story of Lincoln is also a story for our time because it is so much like our time. And people feel that in their collective psyche.
Consider the parallels between Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, both the men and the societies they governed. Both were relative outsiders to Washington when they put their bid in for the presidency. Lincoln was a lawyer from Illinois. So is Obama. In both cases the social issues of the day had completely polarized the country: in Lincoln’s time it was slavery and North vs. South; in our present day it’s the economy and racial issues with Left vs. Right.
By 1861 the country was breaking apart over states’ rights and slavery. The abolitionist movement had heated up in the North. Under the leadership of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate states were talking about seceding from the Union. The United States was bracing for war. Within weeks of Lincoln winning the presidency, the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter and the Civil War began.
When Obama took office, the country was engaged in a long and expensive war, albeit one fought far from our shores. At home, a financial crisis was brewing and would soon come to a head, leading to recession and high unemployment. Within weeks of Obama’s inauguration in 2008, elected representatives from some of those same states that in 1861 seceded from the Union effectively declared themselves a confederacy by agreeing to oppose every initiative the President presented in Congress. Consider also that people in more than 30 states have, under our constitutional right to petition the government, filed secession petitions through the “We the People” platform that was initiated in the early days of the Obama administration.
Obama and Lincoln are two very different leaders at two very different times, but I see parallels in the challenges we face, astonishing parallels. Like that of Lincoln, Obama’s presidency has been mired in issues of race. His election has brought into relief the deeply embedded racial resentments and prejudices that just will not die in this country. Lincoln scripted the Emancipation Proclamation, and in so doing changed the future of the entire population of America. By ending the Civil War and slavery, he allowed African-Americans to dream of a better life. Simultaneously, he shattered the dreams of the Confederacy, which hoped to retain its way of life and its vision of a white America. Though Northerners were against slavery, they too assumed that America’s white population would always control the nation’s power.
Now, nearly 150 years later, the face of America is changing once again. Like the populace in Lincoln’s day, we must face the fact that we are at a turning point. The time has come to reinvent ourselves once again, recognizing that we are a rich multicultural weave of all humanity. We are truly the first official “global nation,” and that is something to celebrate. We have arrived at the future. We need to be emancipated from an outmoded vision of ourselves, and thus freed to create a new global perspective that allows us to be progressive, creative, and capable of settling conflicts through diplomacy rather than war.
The film Lincoln concludes with Lincoln giving one of his great visionary speeches, beseeching Americans to unite in order to fulfill the vision of this great nation. Lincoln knew all too well that a “house divided against itself cannot stand.” Watching Day-Lewis deliver the profound words of Lincoln made me feel for just a moment—a brief but poignant moment—that I, too, was there listening to President Abraham Lincoln pleading for the healing of the nation he so loved. I am at least partially convinced that the spirit of the great Abraham Lincoln encouraged the making of this film as a way of keeping watch over his beloved nation. He was, and will always be, impassioned about saving the Union. I could not stop the tears from rolling down my face as I thought of America today, scarred as then by battlefields, only now the wounds are political, financial, and psychic.
The patterns of cosmic forces that create the events that become history are as archetypal as the archetypes in our personal lives. The wisdom of sacred scriptures has long warned us that “he who does not learn from history is destined to repeat it.” Like Americans in 1865, we too must choose either to unite behind the founding vision and values of this nation or remain divided and loyal to political parties. It is no coincidence that the film Lincoln has made its debut just when the nation needed it most.
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