12 February 2009

200th Birthday: Lincoln and Darwin

By remarkable coincidence, today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of two intellectual titans of the 19th Century, one in the field of political affairs and the other a truly exemplary scientific mind: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

Amidst all the turmoil of the relatively short-term economic crisis and the longer-term climate crisis facing us, we should stop a moment and draw a bit of inspiration from these two.

Lincoln was courageous enough to stand up for the proposition that human beings can change their wrong or immoral behavior; his success shows that leaders can make it happen.

Darwin was a visionary, but a practical one, who discerned truth from observation, thought it through, and explicated it. We need this kind of clear-headedness, that faces the realities presenting themselves, and accepts them, even when they contradict longheld beliefs.

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