Ron Moore has updated his blog yet again:
February 02, 2006
There are things you hear in childhood which imprint themselves on your heart, in your brain, and upon your soul.
When I was a child, my parents used to take my brother and I twice a year to Disneyland. The behemoth that is Disney today certainly doesn't need me to sing the praises of the happiest place on earth, so I'll spare you fond memories of vacation days spent journeying aboard the Submarine Voyage or Flight to the Moon. However, I was recently downloading a compilation of soundtracks from the park and came across the original recording of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, one of the first of the audio-animatronic shows that would become a defining characteristic of the theme park experience.
The original track presented a speech by Lincoln that was actually a compliation of several different speeches and writings by the sixteenth president and presented a robotic version of him delivering the oration against a handsome backdrop of the US Capitol building while accomapanied by appropriately stirring music. The show was a particular favorite of mine and my father's, both for the theatrical experience and for the nakedly patriotic content of the speech itself. The sentiments and the philosophy it expressed were no less riveting for the nakedly manipulative presentation and the venue in which they were showcased. It was the kind of show that made you want to enlist in the armed forces on your way out the door (and if the Pentagon knew what it was doing, it would've had a booth in the exit lobby like the one in Times Square).
Several years ago, the original speech was replaced by a more pedestrian reading of the Gettysburg Address, and I pretty much stopped going to the show, disappointed that a unique piece of work had been supplanted by something so familiar (if inarguably brilliant in its text). But when I found a recording of the original speech and heard it for the first time in a long time, I was struck not only by the fact that something so well remembered could still touch and inspire me, but that the content of the speech itself was something I had so completely inhaled and made part of my political outlook, and also by the fact that Lincolns words seem particularly relevant now, during a time of tumult and debate over the role of the law in a time of national crisis and war.
It's probably also worth noting that more than a little of the politics of Battlestar Galactica can be traced back to these passages originally written by the rail-splitter from Illinois:
"The world has never had a good definition of the word 'liberty.' The American people just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty. But in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing.
"What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts -- these are not our reliance against tyranny. Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosom. Our defence is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own door.
"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow?
"All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer that if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be the authors and finishers.
"As a nation of free men, we must live through our times or die by suicide. Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in the schools, in the seminaries and in the colleges; let it be written in primers, in spelling books and almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls and enforced in courts of justice; and in short, let it become the political religion of the nation. And let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly at its altar. And let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
"Let us not be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves.
"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."
-- Abraham Lincoln