Sunday, January 11, 2009

FDR and Lincoln

We are one week away from inaugurating a new President. Reference has been made to both FDR and Lincoln regarding the challenges facing Barack Obama.

FDR was cut down in the prime of life with polio or a polio-like affliction. Not only is he unquestionably the greatest President of the twentieth century (by virtue of saving western civilization), his story of how his disability changed him into a better person is inspiring.

My FDR video is the first I shot using a camcorder. I was in Washington DC at the time - early May, 2008 - trying out my new camcorder at the FDR Memorial.

I shot my Lincoln Memorial footage later in the evening. My visits to both memorials were like a religious experience. I felt myself in the presence of something far greater than me. I read the words of both men inscribed on their respective memorials and felt the tears flowing.

Lincoln, as most of us know, was depressed nearly all his adult life. Of all things, his unremitting sadness and despair ennobled him, filled him with rare insights, and prepared him for the grim task ahead.

The crisis we are facing today equates to those that kept FDR and Lincoln awake late into the evening. There are many lessons to learn from these two great men, but the big one is the example they set in their devotion to a higher purpose and their empathy for the suffering of others. Their virtues are saintly ones, tempered by down-to-earth realism.

Hopefully, this is the example that the incoming President chooses to follow.

From mcmanweb: Lincoln and His Depression

"In Lincoln’s depressions, we see the illness in its full destructive horror, one that nearly succeeded in cutting short the life of a promising young man and made the rest of his existence miserable. This is the side of depression with which we can all unfortunately identify. But we also see an aspect to his depressions that equally resonates with us – how our suffering can strengthen us, ennoble us, and embolden us, often to achieve the impossible."

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