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With Malice Toward None

Posted on Thursday, February 29, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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11 Comments
Malice

The public mood is discontent if not utterly disconsolate; people feel worn down, dog-eared, and many just down. Why? Because we are teaching each other to doubt, cancel, condemn, trade cross-accusations. We have lost “with malice toward none.”  

Think about it. Is this what Americans do? Are we the sort – taught by our distinguished history, parents, grandparents, and faiths – to give up on each other, forgive only when it is easy, and withhold and scold when things get really hard?

Have we forgotten we are genuinely different, trained to go the extra mile, expect more of ourselves, help our neighbors, listen, think, and act on heart? Apparently.

Have we ditched the big ideas and ideals; all we have in common? If we have lost faith, how do we get it back? How do we resolve not to let malice contort and consume us? With accountability fraying, the lure of division high, what can be done?

Interestingly, that is not a new question, nor one without an answer. At some point, we all face the choice, say “I can do better, work harder, forgive, help make things work,” or “I give up, do not care, throwing in the towel, greenlighting malice.”

We all feel angry at things not going right, disappointed in others, sometimes in ourselves. But defaulting to “us and them,” defining others as irretrievable, not worth conversation or contemplation is not our best look, nor best “end state.”

We can do better. Truth is, we have been here before, seen this before. As a people, we know sliding into the pit is easy, but climbing out is harder. We have the power to shake the mood. By doing so, we always see things clearer:  Malice is the enemy.

Do we – as a nation – have problems, accountability issues, and political differences dividing us? Unresolved culture talk? When have we not? So, let’s do the work.

Is there guidance to center and strengthen us? Yes, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is a good start, delivered 169 years ago this month. It still resonates …

Now as then, we were at war within. Lincoln appealed to our conscience, faith, and hearts. “Let us judge not, that we be not judged,” he said, echoing Christ in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  With those words, Lincoln opened a curtain, and then spoke these timeless words:

“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 care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Even today, his words echo – or should. WE can bind this nation’s wounds. WE can care. WE can cherish. Or WE can forget it. WE can choose to act “with malice toward none” – to be One – or fray, decay, and lose the chance.

This Nation lives because Lincoln’s words were heard. We need to hear them. A short 49 days, and he was gone. But his spirit – embodied in those words – lives. We thrive when we work toward truth … “with malice toward none.”

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 month ago

Working toward truth, respecting truth , with malice toward none – that is the right spirit for the Nation to have as part of the national character. Very important article Robert. Much good sense and reasoning on this topic. When people appreciate the idea of having balance in their lives , that balance that is achieved through understanding the views of others and taking into consideration that circumstances vary and have influence on beliefs, at all levels, then as Christ taught, and Lincoln surely understood the challenge to overcome malice becomes a matter of principle.

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
1 month ago

Mr. Charles, “defaulting to us and them” is definitely the game plan of the Marxist Democrats. We, the people, are being bombarded with destructive lies and propaganda that are tearing our country apart. Instead of all of us working for the common good, we have Communists who call themselves Democrats. These haters of our freedoms and our liberties are doing their best to alienate Americans from America. They are purposely holding onto their power base at all costs. They are actively encouraging chaos and anarchy. Thus, we, the American people, are in grave danger of losing our Constitutional Republic and our way of life.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

Perhaps a good follow up would be to discuss the ways in which those in charge of Reconstruction after the war either honored or ignored Lincoln’s call and the long term outcomes.
I’ve read a bit on the run up to the Civil War and it’s scary that the feel of the country now is so similar to what was going on then.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 month ago

What a difference between those words and basket of deplorables or yokels clinging to their guns Character matches the words

SusanW
SusanW
1 month ago

Thank you, Robert for such an important reminder. These are difficult times and extremely frustrating! But, in my world, the option to give up is never there. As Abraham Lincoln also stated in his Second Inaugural address, “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” In other words, we must liberate ourselves by coming together as a united country by being more tolerant and understanding of each other’s differences. It is of the upmost importance to be resilient and always determined to overcome the challenges that are facing our nation. . We must rise above our difficulties by drawing from our inner strength and goodness and grow from it. We must put the image of malice to rest. The intention or desire to do evil or the intent to commit an unlawful act without legal justification should never be condoned. We need more charity for all and less malice for all. There is no “us or them” only “we”. Time is of the essence!

Elaine
Elaine
1 month ago

Time to get “WE THE PEOPLE” back into our elections, not them and us. Get the perpetual racism out completely.
Erase the ethnic questions and put in American Citizen. This country was founded on a blending of people, not continue to divide from the past. Focus on unity, get rid of divisions.

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