He paced back-and-forth as he searched his heart and soul, he was convinced in his heart it was morally-correct; he was convinced in his soul that it was God’s intent – tomorrow will be the day. As the new-day dawned, Jan. 1st, 1863 - Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be “forever free”, and ordered the Army (and all segments of the Executive branch) to treat as free 3.1 million enslaved in ten-states that were still in rebellion.
The message of the proclamation was clear – but it would only apply to those states in rebellion (those which seceded from the Union), which of course meant slavery in the “union slave states” of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland or Delaware was still “legal” – which were some 500,000 slaves with an additional 300,000 exempt from emancipation in of other states like Louisiana which at that time during the Civil War were partially returned to the Union. None the less, slavery – one human owning the rights of another - was abolished with the eventual passage of the 13th Amendment to our Constitution.
It has been 150 years since this great nation proclaimed emancipation – yet still today there are shadows which haunt our society, as we begin the year 2013 many are held-captive by the arms of poverty and prejudice. Our society is still plagued by bigotry, racial bias and selective-segregation. That said – this society continues to change for the better. All we need do is compare who we are with what the most are – we are free, for the many we are united, we are proud to be called an American.
Yes there is bigotry remaining in religions, one condemns the other claiming they alone have “salvation” – however, there is no Baptist who kills a Catholic in the name of God. Jewish Synagogues are not blown-up by Lutheran fundamentalists and Muslims can still worship in peace and security of heart. We have not stoned to death a single daughter because she was raped and is therefore an “embarrassment” to the honor of family. And I do not believe there is a church in this marvelous nation which quietly approves and preaches that self-suicide while targeting/killing those of different faiths will ensure them the embrace of God.
Yes there is racism remaining in many a heart, but I believe mostly because of how we interpret what we see and hear. We’ve just come off two horrific crimes – mass shootings of the innocent. Both were committed by a “white” person – which was never mentioned. Question – had they been brown or black would their color have influenced thought patterns – and History whispers – “Yes indeed”. We are changing – this year let’s look beyond skin or slant-of-eye. Meet someone and take the time to discover who they are – and History whispers – “You are the same”.
Abraham Lincoln was a man of principle – but more so than most he was a man of great vision. He embraced these words – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. May 2013 breathe life into what is “self-evident”.