The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.
What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning embattlements, our bristling sea coasts. These are not our reliance against tyranny. Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.
At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, [that] if it ever reach us, it must spring [from] amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we [ourselves must] be [the] author[s] and finisher[s]. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time[s], or die by suicide. – Abraham Lincoln
You may or may not have noticed that I missed a few days of updates. It turns out that I forgot I was going to Disneyland. There are other things I’d like to talk about from my trip there as it was quite nice and worth talking about but I’d like to begin at the end. With the best fireworks show of my life over we turned to leave the park but not before visiting a building that housed many of the historical mementos of Disney. It was about the point that we reached the slanted scale miniature of the theme park that a voice called out over the speakers. “There are only 2 minutes left before the beginning of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”
My father-in-law had been talking about it off and on throughout the day and it seemed serendipitous that they would be preparing for a showing almost the exact moment that we were in the building. We walked into the theater and took our seats. The introduction reminded me a lot of Bioshock Infinite with its deeply faithful introduction of America. It softened the darkness and polished the shine as much as any propaganda video would.
But then the curtains parted and we are introduced with a remarkably convincing animatatronic rendering of Abraham Lincoln. During this scene he gives a speech which I’ve grabbed and quoted above which I think is more poignant now than it ever has been. With the rise of the atomic bomb there has not been another “great” war. Many small skirmishes have been had and many still happen across the world. Hundreds of Thousands, if not Millions, of people die in these events. But they are not on the scale of what happened not once, but twice, in the early 20th century.
These bombs provided us with a strange new power. The power to avoid any reasonable chance of any level of invasion from an outside force. What remained was a haunting truth, if the United States is to die it will be by its own hands. The vices of man will be the rope that hangs the United States. The greed of a select few and the ignorance of a greater population will seed the blight.
It is so very strange when I find myself sitting somewhere seemingly innocuous, watching something I expect to be vapid, in a place I would never think to be deep and thoughtful, and then be slapped upside the head with insight. That moment, that quote from a man long since dead floating out of the lips of a machine no more living than my keyboard, they lead me to feeling lightheaded.
It is so perfect, so accurate, so precise. That short show speaks more accurately of the danger the US faces now than all the combined talking heads on television. It speaks more candidly, more honestly, and more accurately of the reality and the danger than anyone does now. I found the moment fascinating, beautiful, and saddening all at once.
If you find yourself at Disneyland I highly recommend you visit the show. Take it all in and brood on it, because its the reality we now face being predicted by a 204 year old man.