Fascinating History Account of Early Court Cases

Just finishing this book on the eve prior to July 4.  If you want to transport back 250 years ago, this book will take you to Springfield Illinois, where an attorney named Abraham Lincoln was developing a reputation as a brilliant communicator who mesmerized witnesses, onlookers, and juries with his communication abilities.  He could elicit tears, laughter, or uncovered detail-  whichever benefitted his client, at any moment in time during a trial. Lincoln mastered the nuance of word choice, tone of voice, body language, and ability to weave emotion into every word in order to lead the jury, like a horse, to the water.

It was a period of time when the law was in its infancy, and precedents/rulings were muddled through and established for the first time. For example, only twenty years prior to this trial of this book, judges presented closing arguments for both sides, allowing the judge final “persuasive arguments” based on his belief of the guilt or innocence.   Defense and prosecuting attorneys had just recently taken over the closing argument in lieu of the judge.  Lincoln was a master of closing arguments.

This was a time period of:

Sweltering unairconditioned courthouses in which onlookers lined hours ahead for a seat to pass the time with something interesting-

Outhouses for bathrooms-

A scant few ” transcriptionists”  who wrote word for word recording of everything spoken in a trial -that brought court proceedings to the public-

Civility –

History allows us to see how far we have come.

Sometimes history can show us regression.   This is the case in the public political discourse of disrespect- on the evening as Womens USA Soccer Team has refused a visit to the Office of the President, one of many sports teams refusing an invitation.   Adults model disrespect to children when they speak disparagingly of anyone, whether it’s the president or a neighbor.   Children ALWAYS have their ears in listening mode.  When we say we HATE someone, they understand that to mean it’s ok to say it and HATE.

You can not like someone.  You can disrespect someone.  You can disagree wholeheartedly with someone.  This is freedom.   The times that we are living in have become a game board for publicizing EVERYTHING because of the accessibility to print, post, repost, tweet, retweet.  I love it just as much as the next person… until the world seems small and angry.   Until those who have been blessed with all of the gifts of freedom, specialized training, and a support network that pushed them to reach the heights of their abilities decide it is very important to publically display their disapproval –  and choose to put angry energy into my world…   Nothing’s perfect, everyone is flawed, and when there are opportunities to shake hands with our “perceived” enemies… that’s called taking the higher ground which builds goodwill, which builds door opening, which builds ability to exchange ideas in an attempt to persuade the other to our perspective.

Tolerance

Interesting how we can categorize negative and positive words made from the letters of tolerance:

real, learn, can, near, earn, ear, lent, noel, create

cant, rot, not, no, rant, rat, torn, late, later, crater

Tolerance creates civility.  Though there was a lack of so many “creature” comforts in the times of Abraham Lincoln, civility paved the way in uncharted territory and was in no short supply.  Heck- they even agreed to a time and place to have a shoot out to settle a dispute!

No matter what channel I turn to, be it news, morning talk shows, Saturday Night Live, you can not escape the venom spewed at the office of the President of the USA.   It is minutes and minutes of opinionating venom.    I have 3rd graders in Writers Club this past year talking about how they HATE the President.

On this Fourth of July, celebrating the country’s 243 year of independence, let us be grateful for the ability to celebrate all of our freedoms, and turn the notch up on finding productive ways to put good energy out there- to the people in our own lives and in our own communities-instead of broadcasting our hatred and our disgust.

I think the best thing Elmo ever said was, “Put a lid on it!”