In 1864 while making an address at the Sanitary Faire in Baltimore, MD, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the meaning of liberty this way:
“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.”
This is fascinating to me because it is the same thing that I am saying today regarding the different definitions of the same words by different populations of people – each of which mean something completely different, used in a completely different way, and each group believing they have the correct definition.
The biggest challenge for our culture today is to know what it means to work with people who have a different baseline moral framework than yourself. We haven’t figured it out yet. And from what Abraham Lincoln said, it looks like this struggle has been going on for a really, really long time. I guess it’s going to take that much for time to hopefully shift cultural engagement in a more peaceful and productive manner.
As cheesy as it sounds… That change in cultural engagement must start right now with you.