“We are not enemies, but friends… Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” Abraham Lincoln said. “The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
When he spoke these words in his first inaugural, Lincoln was stunningly optimistic. He assumed office with only 40% of the vote after an election that saw him ridiculed as much as admired. Only weeks before, he had to sneak into Washington to skirt an assassination plot. Within weeks, an immensely bloody four-year civil war would begin.
In invoking our “better angels,” Lincoln referred not so much to supernatural beings but to the feelings within our own psyche that predispose us toward kindness and connection. One imagines the angel perched on one shoulder sparring and cajoling with the devil on the other.
America is once again deeply divided, and some of those divides trace to the same divides that existed in that tragic time. And once again it’s tempting to harbor malice and move rapidly from indignation to anger to hate.
In Mindful’s mission to promote mindfulness—both the basic human capability and the practices that cultivate…