Many others are seven years old: Kevin Drum has posted a beautiful photograph. Behind that beautiful photograph lies a sudden medical mystery.
The photograph pictures Kevin's mother. As we've noted in the past, the human face is deeply expressive.
We're told that no one lives forever. This claim is notoriously hard to prove. For today, we'll accept it as fact.
Assuming that claim is actually true, Kevin's mother, like many others, is nearer the end of her lifespan, and farther from its beginning. With recovery, she may have many more years of painting and swimming and speaking with her son.
At the same time, many others around the world, and around the country, are only 7 years old. Barring unforeseen disaster, they have many years ahead.
Of all our reading in recent weeks, we continue to think, most above all, about the 7-year-old boy who was "terrified" by the things his mother had told him. More on that matter below.
Meanwhile, this was Lincoln, shortly before his own death, making one of the most unusual public statements in human history in his Second Inaugural Address:
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained...Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.It's hard to edit that very short speech. You might want to read the whole thing.
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.
The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man [sic] by whom the offence cometh!"
If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?
Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said: "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
We well recall the day we first read that Second Inaugural Address. We were standing inside the Lincoln Memorial, roughly 45 years ago, with a whole bunch of fifth grade kids.
We recall being shocked by what we saw Lincoln had said. Specifically, we remember thinking that Abraham Lincoln wasn't human—that Lincoln had come here from Mars.
Our side—we—did this too, this unusual person had said:
If we lose everything as a result, no one can say that this terrible outcome wouldn't be righteous and just.
As history teaches, no one who says such things out loud is ever permitted to live. Six weeks later, Lincoln was gone, and more brutal history followed.
That said, today's 7-year-olds played no part in any of those events. They deserve the chance to move on. They deserve not to be terrified.
Next week, as we hope for better news from Kevin's home, we plan to discuss the specific events which led to four people's deaths. We think there's a lot to learn from those awful events, and from some numbers too.
Should that 7-year-old be terrified in the way his mother described? Each person will decide that for him or herself. For ourselves, we think you should consider the possibility that the answer is no.
Lincoln knew that unspeakable harm had some, might continue to come, from the terrible offense he described. That terrible harm continues today. How might that harm be lessened?
We hope that Kevin's mother recovers. Concerning our many 7-year-olds, we'll hope they soon feel better too.