Who Would Abe Vote For?
Today is a big day for both Republicans and Democrats.
No matter on which side of the political fence you find yourself, take a moment and distance yourself from the rhetoric and consider the following:
Will you be voting for a candidate or against a candidate? Are you voting as a proud American or a victimized American?
Are you voting for a candidate because of a moral stand they take or will you vote for a candidate because they make no real moral statement and will thus place no moral demands upon you whatsoever? Are you inspired by real acts of leadership or by the role played by someone pretending to be a leader?
Will you vote for a candidate who promises gratification or will you vote for a candidate who promises work?
Is your favored candidate in tune or ahead of the cultural curve or is your candidate in tune with the values curve?
Is your candidate a real hero? Has your candidate overcome tremendous obstacles not only on behalf of themselves, but others as well? Real heroes do not act to be applauded or remembered. Real heroes act to right a wrong. Real heroes act in a way that elevates others, no strings attached.
Real heroes conquer their own consuming passions and addictions so as to better their own lives and the lives of those around them. Real heroes do not seek power. Real leaders are driven by something very different.
Real heroes live and act out of loyalty, love and duty. The marching bands, the medals or adulation received. Real heroes are not born for adventure or to conquer. In fact, the primary purpose of a real hero is not to lead but rather, to serve.
In a free society, we understand that our heroes may be flawed and imperfect. In a free society, we also understand that we are blessed with the gift that allows us to choose our leaders. In a civilized and free society, real leaders are those for whom commitment to the elevation and dignity of themselves and the citizens they represent are paramount. Real leaders serve us all and are not beholden to any group.
Is the candidate you are considering really worthy of the legacies left by Abe Lincoln or Abe Zelmanowitz?
Europe celebrated great victories with great speeches and parades that begat more great speeches and parades, and toasted King or Queen.
One American Abe celebrated a victory in a very American way:
Fourscore 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. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
This nation also birthed another Abe, somewhat lesser known:
Abe Zelmanowitz was an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, New York, who worked in the World Trade Center. Although he died in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, his remains were only recently identified. He was just buried in Jerusalem. Mr. Zelmanowitz worked on the 27th floor of 1 World Trade Center, the second tower to collapse -- which means that he probably could have lived, had he chosen to leave the burning building. But he didn't. Instead, he stayed behind to remain with a paraplegic colleague, who was also his friend. He even urged his friend's full-time nurse to save herself, while he himself chose to comfort, and protect, his friend with his continued presence...
We do not know, and we will never know, if those two men knew they were about to die. But surely they knew they were in great, perilous danger. Think of the story in the alternative: your friend's nurse has left, to save herself. And then you leave, and live. And for the rest of your days, you are tortured by the memory of what those last minutes must have been like for your friend, unable to try to save himself, and doomed to a horrifying death as 1 World Trade Center collapsed -- and alone. And you ask yourself: in the moments when it mattered most, what was my friendship worth? What, in the end, were my friend, and whatever comfort I could give him, worth to me? I chose my physical survival over the solace my presence might have provided my friend -- the knowledge that another human being cared enough about him to remain behind, in the fading hope that rescue might still arrive, the knowledge that he mattered so much that I, his friend, would risk my own life to stay with him.
Would I judge someone negatively for having left the building, and saving his own life? Of course not; it was an extraordinary emergency, and the normal rules don't apply. In such a situation, I would be hesitant to judge any response a person might have. But I do think this: Mr. Zelmanowitz's act was not a selfless one. It was the most selfish act imaginable. By his actions, Mr. Zelmanowitz declared: these are my values, this is my friend, and I will not desert him in his, and my, hour of greatest need. When it truly matters, even if no one -- or only God -- knows what I do, I will try to live up to my own highest ideals, and I will offer my friendship, my companionship, my caring, and my protection to my friend. And that is how much I love myself, that I will do this, even when I know how high the price might be, and that it might be the highest price of all.
One Abe was the President of the United States of America. During the darkest of hours, he rescued a nation and set a course to greatness that would manifest itself long after he was gone. His legacy would influence nations and people around the world.
The other Abe was a simple man some might say, having little in common with that great President of the United States.
As Americans, we know better.
Vote for the kind of America that makes heroes of those who elevate us all.