On this trip I’ve confronted the difference between dreams and politics. Politics is about identifying and achieving what’s possible. Dreams are about hope, and hope changes what’s possible.
I hope I never diminish my dreams by settling for practicality.
Becky and I are taking a few days to see the sights in DC. On Tuesday we returned to the Lincoln and MLK Memorials. I admire both men, and I was struck by the stark divergence between their worldviews.
Both men genuinely opposed injustice. Both clearly believed in freedom and equality for all. Both were inspiring leaders and eloquent speakers. Both sought and bore awesome responsibility and eventually were killed for refusing to waver from their central purpose.
Lincoln was a politician. As President, he believed his primary duty was to preserve the Union. He was willing to do almost anything to achieve that practical result.
He opposed violence and war, but accepted them as necessary evils to achieve the results. He personally opposed slavery, but was willing to save the Union even at the cost of allowing the horrors of slavery to continue. In Lincoln’s Letter To Horace Greeley he stated:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
Lincoln sought a worthy result and accepted the limitations of the world’s methods to achieve it.
Dr. King had a dream—some would call his dream “impossible.” He believed in hope, a confident expectation based on God’s promises. He didn’t limit his vision to the world’s methods and possibilities, because he believed hope changes what’s possible.
Dr. King believed Jesus told the truth.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
The world says that’s crazy, idealistic, impractical, unachievable.
That’s the distinction between these two great men. Lincoln believed in doing everything he could to achieve a practical end. King believed in following Jesus and trusting God for an impractical end.
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