Lincoln and Darwin: Two Extraordinary Lives

So, it is Feb 12. The 200th anniversary of the birth of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

I recently went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History where they are mounting a year-long celebration of Lincoln and his life. The current exhibit did a nice job of tracing his life history. I read a biography of Lincoln when I was a kid and was a bit fascinated with the story of his assassination (due to a Scholastic Reader book that I got in junior high).

The most telling thing to me in the exhibit was along the wall as you exited. It was lined with portraits of Lincoln during his political career. The change in his face was more than just age. The last few portraits that were taken as he was presiding over a country at war were so stunning in how much physical toll that stress took on him.

He was a man who was ahead of the common thought of the time. He pushed a country to accept a change that many did not want. I admire his dedication, his communication skills and his leadership ability as he had to bring very different factions together in a very real and timely way.

Charles Darwin was also a man ahead of the thinking of the day. He took on the challenge of stating his scientific theory and then proceeding to support it with research and evidence. I must admit that my knowledge of Darwin’s life is limited to the mentions in my textbooks from high school. I should probably go find out more.

But, these two men do demonstrate beliefs and actions to me that I hope to carry on in my life:

  • A need to explore and learn and
  • a need to find the common ground for all people to move towards what is good and just in the world.

I will try to keep that in mind as I explore new technologies in the world around me and think about how they can both help and disrupt our lives. As I try to push envelopes in a Darwin way, I will try to keep the Lincoln approach to bringing people together for a common goal and purpose. Both seem noble to me.

Have a great February 12.