Like much of the world, it seems, I enjoy social media and I’m sure—to some degree—I will continue too. My typical morning involves making the coffee and then sitting down and opening a social media app or two and sipping coffee while I take in some of what my social media friends have posted and said. But admittedly there are times I’ve thought about deleting some, if not all, of my social media accounts. Sure, on the positive side there’s that perceived sense of connection you feel with people you know, have known and haven’t seen in years, and the sharing of all those great memories, personal news, and the good-natured banter that goes on. I enjoy all these things. But of course every rose has its thorn…bush. Which means there are times while scrolling through, say, Facebook or Twitter, I start to think maybe it would’ve been better if Noah had missed the boat.
This was my favorite ad during this past Sunday’s Super Bowl game. Not a hard call.
A marketing rep for Jeep said, “It’s a prayer. We wanted it to be the most spiritual commercial in the history of Super Bowls.” And that’s exactly how I took it, as a prayer for America.
It’s no secret the middle has been a hard place to get to lately. Between red and blue, between servant and citizen, between our freedom and our fear. Now fear has never been the best of who we are. And as for freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few. It belongs to us all. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, it’s what connects us, and we need that connection. We need the Middle. We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground. So we can get there. We can make it to the mountain top, through the desert. And we will cross this divide. Our light has always found its way through the darkness. And there is hope on the road up ahead.
Beautifully done by Springsteen.
I like how Springsteen refers to the Middle as a “place.” The Middle doesn’t have a unified political view. People who see themselves in the Middle don’t share all the same views. The Middle is mostly made up of those who lean one way or the other but aren’t extremists.
What makes us part of the Middle isn’t an agreement on all the issues, it’s a simple willingness to move toward that place where we stand together on common ground.
Historians call it the Hampton Roads Conference. It happened 156 years ago today. Not far from where I live now, near Fort Monroe, Virginia, on February 3, 1865, Abraham Lincoln met with commissioners from the southern Confederacy to discuss a possible peace agreement.
The conference is dramatized in the Oscar winning movie Lincoln. The movie, of course, cannot give us all that was said during a roughly 4 hour meeting. What the film maker does in this scene is give us the core sentiments of the negotiating sides, creatively summed up in this short scene:
“How have you held your union together? Your democracy? How many hundreds of thousands have died during your administration. Your union sir, is bonded in canon-fire and death.”
Lincoln’s reply brilliantly turns those words back on Alexander Stephens. Yes, the sacrifices had been immense, but these sacrifices will ultimately be proven worthy because they were made not just for our democracy but for democracy as an idea itself. “But say all we’ve done is show the world that democracy isn’t chaos. That there is a great invisible strength in a people’s union. Say we’ve shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere. Mightn’t that save at least the idea of democracy, to aspire to? Eventually to become worthy of? At all rates whatever may be proven by blood and sacrifice must have been proved by now.”
Again, the movie clip above is a creative dramatization. Stephens and Lincoln didn’t, as far as we know, actually say these lines, but if you read the correspondences related to this meeting and the various written recollections, you can see how what’s said could be interpreted as representing the central position of Stephens and Lincoln.
By the time of this meeting it was clear the Confederacy was defeated. It was over. The Hampton Roads Conference wouldn’t lead, however, to the Confederate government surrendering. Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President, would continue to allow southern troops to fight and die in a hopeless cause. The Civil War would end only when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865.