POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 20, 2010
President Abraham Lincoln's words in 1865 have reached across time to counsel a country that is angry and deeply divided today across religious and political lines, says national best-selling author Ron C. White Jr.
The noted Lincoln scholar spoke on the need for conciliation between the political right and left Sunday at the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii's annual dinner. About 200 attendees at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin closely followed White's discourse on Lincoln's famous speech, which urged "malice toward none" during the Civil War.
White's remarks on Lincoln's wisdom and compassion were based on one of his books, "Abraham Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural," published in 2002.
"It was the most profound speech combining politics and religion ever delivered to the American public," he said. In it, Lincoln used inclusive language to remind them of what they had in common: "Both (the North and South) read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other."
He said Lincoln attributed the best possible motives to both sides, "which is totally lacking in today's politics. He didn't demonize the enemies."
Instead of casting judgment and blame as politicians do today, White asked, "Is it possible in this atmosphere, can we people of religion, of faith, call for compassion, forgiveness, understanding, respect and appreciation?"
White quoted the last paragraph in Lincoln's address: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
President Barack Obama, who has often referred to Lincoln as his role model, has been roundly criticized by progressives for continuing to talk of conciliation and bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans, even after the Democratic Party's drubbing in the recent election, White told the Star-Advertiser. But Obama reiterated the need to work together for the sake of the nation, and as he advocated in his 2008 election victory speech, White added.
The alliance also presented its 2010 Flame of Hope Award to Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani of the Hawaii Kyodan and director of the Buddhist Study Center in Honolulu. He was commended for his involvement in interfaith activities, advocacy of social justice and for "touching countless lives through his Buddhist ministry."
Mary Adamski, former Honolulu Star-Bulletin religion writer, was presented with the first Special Recognition and Appreciation Award "especially for her long-standing, honest, unbiased reporting."
Other awards included:
» Healing Role in Hawaii Award -- the American Friends Services Chapter Hawaii Region for grass-roots nonviolent civic participation.
» Encouraging Non-Violent Civic Participation Award -- Nakem Youth.
» Facilitating Community Activism Award -- Faith Action for Community Equity, which aids in resolving issues of safety in the workplace and neighborhood, housing and labor in the community.
» Challenging Religious or Political Extremism Award -- The Parish of St. Clement, Episcopal.