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On Lincoln and Logic

I read a tweet today from Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Based on comments from winning players, it’s remarkable how much time God spends to help athletes defeat their opponents.”

I replied: “Sports is a lot like politics and war in that respect.”

And that reminded me of Abraham Lincoln, and so I wrote: “Why Lincoln 2nd inaugural speech powerful: ‘Both pray to same God, each invokes His aid against other.’”

The Gettysburg Address is Lincoln’s most famous speech, and it is beautifully crafted.

But Lincoln’s second inaugural speech, after almost four years of Civil War and just six weeks before he was assassinated, is to me even more powerful.  You should read it in its entirety, but the passage from which I paraphrased is this:

“Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully.”

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.”

“The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully.”

There is a profound but simple truth in Lincoln’s words, one that requires only humility and a little logic to understand.

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