We have read and discussed Lincoln's words at the various Reading Project events. We have noted and appreciated his rhetoric and phrasing: "all men are created equal," "new birth of freedom," and "government of the people, by the people, for the people." But we have not mentioned the words that have the potential to truly remake America: apathy, indifference, ignorance, and intolerance.
As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words.
Was it apathy then that kept more students from coming to hear Garry Wills' talk last night? Was it indifference that motivated so many students to leave Barton Hall before the group discussion was over a few weeks ago? Yes, it was hot in there, but why were these students so uninterested in this discussion? Especially in an historic election year when these topics and Lincoln's words have resonated in our daily news headlines.
Democracy is participatory. In order to function properly it requires an informed citizenry to educate itself about the issues and problems it faces, and to act on those issues.
Democracy is a privilege, just as a Cornell education is a privilege. Both require you to think. Both require some effort and hard work.
As we finish with our daily postings to this blog, I hope that our readers will keep Lincoln in mind. Next year we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth and Cornell will be celebrating his life and accomplishments with a major exhibition in Kroch Library.
I have enjoyed discussing Lincoln with you all. Keep reading. Stay curious. Know better.
[Flickr image of Mount Rushmore by lmbaker3.]