A Letter - A Lost Perspective
I was re-watching "Saving Private Ryan" yesterday.
Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby shook me a bit. Before I explain why, read it:
Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864.
Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts:
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
I was shocked for following reasons:
1. People don't write like this anymore. Has our writing become as superficial as our knowledge & values?
2. People don't think like this anymore. Why did Mrs. Bixby send all her five sons to war? Because she believed in the idea of freedom. She believed in freedom because she had carefully thought about it.What's sad is that the only people who have the courage to make a similar sacrifice are religious fanatics; neither their means nor their cause is justified.
In the world of instant information & hyper-connectivity, aren't we suppose to think a bit more deeply, more clearly, even about our long held beliefs that might be losing their significance in light of our ever expanding knowledge? Are we losing the connection with ourselves? Or have we lost the ability to distinguish between reality & fantasy? We sparingly insult the realist & easily condone the priest even though it's the realist, in the guise of a scientist or an artist who shows us the mirror; without forcing us to believe in fairies at the bottom of the pool.
Maybe people don't write like this anymore because they don't think like this anymore; or what would be more appropriate, people can't write like this anymore, because they don't think, they only know.
Sadly, they believe in only what they know.