This month 158 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave his first Inaugural Address. By then, seven states had seceded from the Union and his goal in his first message to the American people as their President was to be both conciliatory and firm — the Union could not be divided. He concluded his address with the words:
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Long before our family moved to the United States, I was struck by that final phrase of Lincoln’s address: “the better angels of our nature.” To see positive change in our world, in our communities, our families, we need to pay attention to that which is positive and life-giving in the human character.