Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

Leadership, Love and Lincoln

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Leadership, Love and Lincoln

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photographs Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2013
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
Historical Images from the Library of Congress Digital Collection

“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves.  Love, therefore, is its
own reward.”
Thomas Merton

On this Valentine’s Day, Kitch and I would like to share a few of the things we learned about love from our 16th president, AbrahamIMG_9232_250 Lincoln, during our Face of America journey.

Ten months ago, we were recording scenes for our documentary Walking Into The Light At Gettysburg. During the presentation of the living historian who was interpreting Abraham Lincoln for the students from North Plainfield High School, I asked this question:

Help these students understand the importance of these two words compassion and tolerance?

He answered with words I did not expect to hear:


It’s hard for me, because when you are talking about ‘oh tell us about your leadership style…’

A lot of it you just do because you think it is the right thing to do and it comes from …love. Love of my fellow man.

I was a politician because I loved people.  I loved being a politician because you can help people. I think if you come from a position of love of your fellow man, I don’t think you can go wrong.

I think that out of love comes all of the actions. It’s the fountainhead. That’s what I try to do…and to me that’s all it takes, love and effort.

Granted this was an actor playing Lincoln, but in so many ways his words ring true.

When I think about the greatness of Abraham Lincoln, I think about a leader who personified:

Courtesy not acrimony;

Understanding not hostility;

Thoughtfulness not theatrics;

Kindness not callousness;

Giving not taking;

Magnanimity not meanness;

Love not enmity.

So what does this have to do with our national day of love?

In my opinion, a great deal.

In all things great and small, Lincoln gives us a blueprint of what America is on its best day.  He reminds us of what we can be at our very best, and it’s all about love of country, love of our neighbors, compassion for those who are hurting, and tolerance for those who are different.

You may not find specific quotations from Lincoln about love, but you can find many examples of his kind and gentle heart reaching out to help others in need, and his steadfast determination to preserve the union and promote equal opportunity for everyone.

Of all the lines he authored, this is his most inspirational thought for me:

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.”

And what animates that light?


Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Life, Light and Lincoln

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Life, Light and Lincoln

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates
All Rights Reserved
The Face of America Project

Let us at all times remember that all Americans are brothers of a common country, and should dwell in the bonds of fraternal feeling. Abraham Lincoln

Life and Lincoln

Kitch and I have been spending a good of our time producing our documentary Walking Into The Light at Gettysburg. It has been a demanding and delightful experienced.

It forced us to immerse ourselves in the history of the Civil War, and it opened our eyes to the brilliance and compassion of Abraham Lincoln.

While he was President, he was vilified by his detractors.

Nevertheless, he remained true to his beliefs.

Early one morning while I was doing research for the documentary, I found an insightful comment about President Lincoln. It was written by T.V. Smith:

This Lincoln, whom so many living friends and foes alike deemed foolish, hid his bitterness in laughter; fed his sympathy on solitude; and met recurring disaster with whimsicality to muffle the murmur of a bleeding heart. Out of the tragic sense of life he pitied where others blamed; bowed his own shoulders with the woes of the weak; endured humanely his little day of chance power; and won through death what life disdains to bestow upon such simple souls—lasting peace and everlasting glory.

When pressed for an answer to the question, “What is America at its best?” Smith’s description of Abraham Lincoln comes to mind.

The man who saved the union and lost his life doing it was caring, compassionate, and thoughtful. He saw public office as an opportunity to serve others, not himself. He did not complain, and he never walked away from his responsibilities. He wanted America to be a country deeply rooted in belonging, community and confraternity.

For kitch and me, Abraham Lincoln is the personification of America at its very best.

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