Let Us Have Peace

Let us have peace.”  Ulysses S. Grant~

Who could have imagined that yesterday, May 1, 2011, would end up having historical significance not just for the United States but also for the world?    It was announced that the United States had finally killed terrorist and al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden… the mastermind behind embassy bombings in Africa, the attack on the USS Cole, and the 9/11 attacks.  For those of us that can remember these events, the news of the day brought great celebrations from the Atlantic to the Pacific and amongst our various world allies.  But within our euphoric celebration, we must also remember to be humble.  Yes, this man was seen as the embodiment against all our freedoms and yet, he was still just a man.

After the 9/11 attacks, we watched many Muslim people celebrate in that part of the world to the catastrophic events that were unfolding upon our soil.  (Note… not all Muslim people celebrated.  So don’t start going off into stereotypes.)  And yet, almost ten-years later, upon hearing of the death of its great mastermind, our people take to the streets to celebrate and be damned with the consequences of how this will look to the rest of the world.  In essence, we were quite hypocritical during the first moments of euphoria.  Instead of celebrating in the streets over this news (and thus celebrating our freedoms), we should use this time for reflection and contemplation.  The attacks on September 11, 2001, brought our nation together as very few events ever had before.  It was a time of patriotism and pride in all things that make our nation great.  And on this new day many years later, we should contemplate again what it means to be an American and how we now progress forward.  The war on terror is not over just because we chopped off the head of the serpent.  We must continue to be ever vigilant in our efforts to protect ourselves from those that would do harm unto us.

This is not a time for one party to claim victory over another party.   The capture or death of Osama bin Laden has been a goal through several presidential administrations… both Democrat and Republican.  Through the valiant efforts of our intelligence community, this day has been brought to us.  And they, along with our armed forces, deserve our utmost gratitude.  It is for the love of their country and countrymen that they serve us today… and most of them will never be known to us.

As we begin our march through the days and years ahead, let us remember what this man’s death meant to our nation and to the rest of the free world.  But let us not get caught up in the stereotypes that have plagued the efforts over the years.  This was just a man in charge of a small group of radical fundamentalists and should not be considered any further.  We should show the world that we have the ability to be humble in our times of great success while enjoying the patriotism that will unite us as a people once again.  The words of Gandhi come to mind at this time.  “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”  As we continue our efforts before us, let us not lose sight of who we are as a people and as a nation.  The principles upon which we stand for should never be sacrificed for the greater good, and we should always remember to hold ourselves to the high standards that we expect other nations and other people to live up to.  We are all one in the same… even if we see ourselves as different.  Let us remember that in this moment and for the times ahead.  That is how we can truly win.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Abraham Lincoln~ (March 4, 1865)

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Illinois Civil Unions

It happened just moments ago.  The Illinois Senate passed legislation granting same-sex couples the right to have civil unions.  The vote was 32-24.  The Illinois House had passed the same bill earlier in the week.  Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who was in the Senate when the bill passed is expected to sign the bill… and same-sex civil unions will take effect in July 2011.

I do recognize that this is not full equality as we have been fighting for… as it only grants several of the same rights as a marriage (and I’m still doing research on what those rights are), but this is still a victory and a major step toward full marriage equality for our community.

For those that know me personally (or for those that have read my bio page), you know that I was born and raised in the state of Illinois.  And though I have not lived there for a few years now, I still consider myself an Illinoisan, and today, I am very proud of the state that I was born in and to which I still visit often.   And though there is still much work to be done, our cause has new focus and a renewed sense of energy.  The times are changing, and Illinois has shown that it is willing to be progressive and to change… and work for a better future for all of its citizens that dwell within its borders.

A great man once came from this particular state that I write about today.  His name was Abraham Lincoln, and he had a major problem to fix.  The union was divided into free and slave states.  And most of the slave states had succeeded from the union and had instigated a civil war within the nation that tore at the very fabric of our founding.  Lincoln had to make some big decisions… one of which was deciding that no man should be unequal nor should he be in bondage to another.  It is a message that has echoed through the annals of time since then.  And I could not help but have my mind drift to this historic figure for some words that could reflect on the victory that has been experienced today.  “Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in bonds of fraternal feeling.” Whether you are for or against civil unions, and whether you are for or against gay marriage, we must remember that we are but one people.  We are entitled to our beliefs, however they may be.  But it is not within our right to deny anyone or any group of people the right to equality that other citizens share.

Though this is not the end of the campaign for our community in Illinois, it is something that is still worth celebrating.  Tomorrow will come soon enough, and the push for equality will resume.  But this time, there will be something different in the air.  Progress.  I commend the Democrats and the Republicans that supported this bill, and I can only hope that they will continue to support such progress as the future unfolds.

LINK: Illinois General Assembly (Senate bill)

For Mr. Lincoln

Today we celebrate the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln.  He has become one of the nation’s top presidents and rightly so.  He kept our divided nation together and ended up ending slavery.  Though he probably didn’t give off the impression of someone who would change history in any significant way, he rose to challenges that were placed before him; and thus changed our nation.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Abraham Lincoln (1865)

Second Inaugural Address

So in honor of Mr. Lincoln’s 200th birthday, I’m posting the Gettysburg Address.  This is still a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  And it shall not perish if we are diligent and active within it.

“Four score 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 battle-field 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 can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not 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.”

Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln!  🙂

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