Advice From Abraham Lincoln
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
In Lincoln's first
inaugural address, he said:
"I do not forget the position
assumed by some, that constitutional questions
are to be decided by the Supreme Court;
nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the
parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also
entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases,
by all other departments of the government.
"And while it is obviously possible that such
decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil
effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the
chance that it may be overruled, and never become a precedent for other
cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different
"At the same time, the candid citizen must
confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital
questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by
decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary
litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have
ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically
resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."
If our founding fathers were alive
today, I believe they would say that people have ceased to be their own
rulers, and that we have abdicated our role as leaders in our own
democracy, and instead, resigned that power to the government, political
parties and their money, and the institutions that those entities have
If the people are
going to take control of the society and become their own
rulers, they must first clearly define what they hope to accomplish.
If their goals and plans are vague or conflicting, then nothing will
change. Furthermore, we must stop focusing on smaller - though
important - issues, and for the time being, focus on the root causes of
our societal problems. If someone is obsessed with abortion or
school prayer, he is bound to come into some type of opposition.
Most likely, he will not accomplish anything.
But if we focus on the bigger picture, we will
find that most everyone agrees that our society is
dysfunctional. Declaring that someone or something is evil will
do nothing to help change the present system. Neither anger nor
an excessive list of complaints is going to solve the problem. We
need more than dissatisfaction to bring about change. Some people
may be apathetic, because they have been raised to believe that our
problems are an inherent part of our form of government. Someone
once said, "It is very imperfect, but it is still the best form of
government formed by man." This implies that we have to accept
these flaws that plague our present system, but that is not the case.
If people clearly define the root causes of
our government's dysfunction, and create specific demands as
to what should be changed, they will get what they want.
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