Saturday, August 27, 2011

'I Admire Your Passion'

My classes went really well last week. And recall on Tuesday I mentioned that I'd be covering Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address during lectures. Well, I stress how President Lincoln appealed to Thomas Jefferson in the first paragraph of the Address, where he wrote:
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.
The Civil War was not initially fought for the emancipation of the slaves, but for the preservation of Union. After Gettysburg the correlation of forces was shifting, and when Lincoln was asked to present at the dedication for the Soldiers' National Cemetery, he put great effort into composing a dedication that would transcend divisions and unify the continued campaigns around an elevated set of war aims focusing on human freedom and the American experience. Should the country be forever divided, it was very well possible that the spark of liberty would forever "perish from the earth."

While presenting the discussion to my students, I pull up my photo of President Lincoln's statue at the Lincoln Memorial, and I ask if students have visited Washington, D.C. A lot of students have not been to the nation's capital, so I share how I felt when I've visited, and I stress how deeply affected I have been, and how especially moving is the Lincoln Memorial. My textbook features a photograph of the left-hand wall of the Memorial, where the Address is engraved, and I mention how there are always people sitting down beneath it, reading quietly in appreciation. And then I remind students that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Memorial. And if you visit, make sure to look for the inscription at the top of the steps, where it says that MLK delivered his speech from that very spot, August 28th, 1963. And I recite for my students how Dr. King challenged the country to "live out the true meaning of its creed, that all men are created equal." And I draw the line of liberty back from Dr. King to Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Jefferson, and I remind folks that while this nation was indeed founded in crisis --- the crisis of slavery --- our greatness lies in our charter documents, pieces of parchment holding the political philosophy that pushes Americans to a higher moral standard, a template of universal goodness, one that still shines bright in the world. And we as citizens can't just stand on the sidelines hoping that the American democracy will continue, but that we have an obligation to ourselves and our fellow citizens to continue the work of our forefathers, to continue to ensure that democracy "shall not perish from the earth."

In any case, I do enjoy the discussions with students, and after my very last class on Tuesday, a young woman named Rebekah came up after I dismissed the class, and she said to me, "You know, Dr. Douglas, I admire your passion." I thanked her and I returned the compliment, because she's been very engaged in class, asking questions and volunteering to lead the discussions. Moments like that are what really make teaching meaningful. I hope I have a lot more of these over the course of the semester.

Also, related, I blogged Steven Givler's recent essay on the New York Times, where he mentioned we might benefit from the example of community college professors, and after I commented at the post, Steven wrote:
Hi Donald, I was actually thinking of you when I mentioned the community college.
As I always say, conservatives are good people. And I'm strengthened by the periodic feedback I receive that I am indeed doing something that is good and decent, and those efforts are not entirely overlooked by both my students and those who have followed my writing. Those of us of good moral standing know that decency and right always prevail, but we can never let our efforts wane, for Satan's toilers stalk along the sidelines, looking for a chance to weaken us and pave the way for darkness to spread across the land. We have faced the danger in history and we have come near to it again of late. Thankfully, the Obama interregnum is now half past, and we can soon push to victory in 2012 and reclaim some of the liberty that the dark side has vanquished.

Be strong dear friends and readers. I'm still in the fight.


Concerned Patriot said...

Great post. Good work. Glad you are keeping up the fight.

Driller said...

I have been following you for this summer, and I can only thank you for your blog. I really enjoy your comments about USA and your musical likes.

Best regards from Spain, my fellow.

Emit Flesti said...

I've never heard of you before today. I read your piece with great interest. I found your approach on liberty to be not only sound but also hopeful.

And then you brought up Satan and the "evil" Obama, and whatever credibility you generated, you immediately flushed, sounding like another crazy.