Lessons Heard, The Gettysburg Address And Last Words Of A Warrior Poet

August 10, 2006

The Anchoress has been dealing with some health issues as of late, some of them rather serious. One of those issues will change her world, permanently. Maybe that’s why she sees things differently.

When you have to face each day with the challenge of serious health issues, priorities come into play. A person facing possible blindness wants to imprint as much natural beauty on his or brain rather than images of silly television programs. A person facing hearing loss wants hear as much music, poetry or ‘I love you’s’ from loved ones as they can, rather than waste time listening to the daily tidal wave of mindless drivel, or the mountain of self serving political deceit, offered up by our politicians or self absorbed media.

Learning to live with serious medical challenges has it’s own rhythm, a kind of an awareness of balance and priorities.

The Anchoress post, Terror And the Hyperventilating Left And Right, is an example of someone who ‘gets it.’ She sees the hysteria of the day come perilously close to tipping over the liferaft we have to share.

After spending some time reading news, opinions and analysis from all over the web and in the blogosphere, I am struck by the way both the right and left lungs of ’sphere are in full-press hyperventilation over the breaking news of the last 20 hours or so…

The news is serious…so why is so much that is being written and spewed forth so wretchedly unserious? Why am I getting such a strong sense that – for some, note, I say some on both the left and the right (and in the media) – this event is an excuse for extraordinarily reckless, demented and self-interested excess? There are people out there who seem too-happily energized by all this – by the thrusty adrenaline-rush of the breaking news, the drama of a credible threat – and who are apparently using the story as an excuse to let not their better selves but their baser ones, shine forth in full glaring (and all too predictable) brilliance?

Go to the lefty sites – I won’t link to them but you know how to find them – and you will read pretty much the following…

Go to the righty sites and you find a lot of this talk…

A pox on both houses and on… and many in Washington and in the press says I. A pox on their opportunism, their paranoia, their jingoism, their xenophobia, their extreme prejudice, their smug know-it-allism, their absolute know-nothingism, their love of the fever-swamp, their jump to cynicism, their eagerness to find fault with any and all solutions and with their barely-concealed glee through all of this.

On a day of serious news too many people – fixated upon their own agendas or their own obsessions – cannot bring themselves to put down the single-shot revolver they’ve been spinning for five freaking years and stop playing russian roulette with the national psyche…

Read the rest as if a big part of our future depended on it- because in a big way, it does.

The Anchoress is right, of course. Bigotry, stupidity and hubris do not distinguish between color, political affiliation, religion or creed.

In fact, all great political and social advances were the result of accommodations and compromises.

What that really means is that when all is said and done, we move forward when we sit down together, and agree to hammer out a compromise and come to terms with the idea that whatever that agreement looks like in the end, it has to move the nation forward, together.

The media loves drama- even political drama. The politicans have learned that the media pays attention when their fecal matter, that pompous heaping plate of self serving deceit is presented to the media that hungrily feeds on it.

Well, you are what you eat, as the saying goes. We would not be facing such mindless drivel and deceit if the media didn’t play it up. We may blame the media and the media in turn may blame the politicians. In the end, it is the politicians from all sides that are wallowing in their own filth and it is the media that eats the filth and tells us we need to eat it too- eating filth is good for us, they say.

Maybe that’s why we’ll never see the likes of Joe Lieberman or Patrick Moynihan again, for example. They never smeared themselves with filth. They really were better than the rest of their colleagues.

As a young boy in London, the author of SC&A can still recall, as if it were yesterday, his father reading the Gettyburg Address to him for the first time. That young boy was mesmerized with the power of American humility. We, in Europe, celebrated our victories with great speeches and parades that begat great speeches and parades, and toasted King or Queen.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

When the author of SC&A came here and visited the Lincoln Memorial for the first time, he read the Gettysburg Address, inscribed on the south side of that memorial, in a whisper, that to him, resonated like a symphony’s crescendo in a great concert hall.
Have we forgotten the meaning of this nation? Have we forgotten what it means to fight for something bigger than ourselves? Have we forgotten that the fight for freedom is the most noble fight of all?

Recall the a few words of an almost forgotten soldier poet:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The Anchoress is right. If we refuse to take the torch that has been passed on to us, well, a pox on everybody’s house.
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5 Responses to “Lessons Heard, The Gettysburg Address And Last Words Of A Warrior Poet”


  1. [...] Linking to this piece: Sigmund Carl and Alfred: recall the Gettysberg Address and wonder, ” Have we forgotten what it means to fight for something bigger than ourselves?” Bravo. Lump on a blog wonders about terminology. Unpartisan [...]

  2. James Says:

    ha good one!


  3. I own the audio book
    ‘Lincoln’s Prose Major Works of a Great American Writer’. His Gettysburg Address is one of the great speeches that I listen to quite often. You’re so right in quoting it!

    http://www.audiobookscorner.com/Title.aspx?titleId=10206&srch=Gettysburg+Address


  4. [...] wrote in Lessons Heard, The Gettysburg Address And The Last Words Of A Warrior Poet: The media loves drama- even political drama. The politicians have learned that the media pays [...]


  5. [...] wrote in Lessons Heard, The Gettysburg Address And The Last Words Of A Warrior Poet: The media loves drama- even political drama. The politicians have learned that the media pays [...]


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