Abraham Lincoln: Avatar

Lincoln represents the type of leader who knows "he is doing something noble and worthwhile. But the noble quest is far more important than they are."

"We are stepped out upon the world stage now, with the fate of human dignity in our hands," proclaims Daniel Day Lewis in his celebrated portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln. "Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment!" Day Lewis exclaims. "Now, now, now!"


While Day Lewis and Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner have received across the board (and well-deserved) praise for capturing the essence of Lincoln, these particular lines have struck a number of critics as false. Why is that?

As Yale professor David Bromwich observes in The New York Review of Books, "the man is aglow and his voice is alive with the tremendous business of making history." However, this was a not a sentiment that Lincoln ever embraced. Bromwich continues:

Any leader who adopts the posture of seeing himself on the stage of history is a glory to himself and a menace to all whom he must lead. Napoleon (whose favorite word was “destiny”) loved this posture, and Lincoln (as he revealed in his Lyceum Address of 1838) hated Napoleon for loving it.

In fact, Lincoln's humility was his greatest asset, argues Gautam Mukunda in his new book Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter. Mukunda, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, says Lincoln "was humble in a way that transcends our normal notion of humility." In a recent interview with Big Think, Mukunda told us Lincoln represents the type of leader who knows "he is doing something noble and worthwhile. But the noble quest is far more important than they are."

Watch the video here:

Hashtag politics: 4 key ways digital activism is inegalitarian

Many believe that the internet has made it easier for us to participate in political activism. But is that really true?

Videos
  • Protesting in person is costly in terms of money and resources; some people have children to take care of, jobs that can't be away from, or may not have time to attend a planning event.
  • The internet was supposed to be a way to sidestep this barrier to political activism. But this doesn't consider the other barriers preventing poor and working-class folks from participating in digital activism.
  • In particular, these people lack ASETs: access to computers, the skills to use them, the empowerment necessary to feel that using Twitter or other social media is for them, and the time to make use of digital platforms in an effective way.
Keep reading Show less

The 5 most intelligent video games and why you should play them

Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.

(Photo from Flickr)
Culture & Religion
  • Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
  • Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
  • These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
Keep reading Show less

The Danish shoot down Trump's plan to buy Greenland, call the idea 'absurd'

The bid to buy Greenland is unlikely to become seriously considered.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Greenland and Danish officials alike think the idea is ridiculous.
  • The island is an autonomous state, and it's unlikely the Danish would sell it because of yearly subsidies costs.
  • After hearing the Danish Prime Minister call the idea absurd, Trump cancelled their forthcoming meeting.
Keep reading Show less