Skip to content

Lincoln’s Melancholy and the Better Angels of Our Nature (video)

Here’s a 3.5 minute video in which I talk about Abraham Lincoln’s journey with depression. Lincoln’s ability to integrate the darkness and light within himself made him the president we needed at a time when the divides in our country were so deep that 750,000 Americans died at the hands of other Americans.

“Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”

Today, when suffering is so widespread, at home and abroad, we all need to be asking how to transform suffering into something life-giving, not death-dealing, politically as well as personally.
As I say in Healing the Heart of Democracy, we know how to do this in our personal lives. I know many people who have lost someone near and dear to them and found their hearts shut down. But after a long night of grief, they have slowly awakened to the fact that suffering has made their hearts more open, compassionate, and alive.

We have the capacity for this kind of “alchemy” in our private lives. Let’s find ways to use it in our public lives as well, where so much depends on how we hold our suffering. (This is one of a series of videos produced by my colleagues at the Center for Courage & Renewal as part of their ongoing project on healing the heart of democracy.)

Share your reflection