By David J. Kent
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Lincoln Group of DC member Richard Margolies has long been inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s strategic vision. And Richard’s own vision of a better America is finally coming to fruition after a series of COVID-induced delays. More on the Visioning a Better America conference in a moment.
Richard is well known to most Lincoln Group members through his long-time role as moderator of the Lincoln study group, now rebranded as the Study Forum. He shepherded us through the study of many books about Lincoln’s life until relinquishing the moderation to John O’Brien in order to focus on his upcoming conference. A practicing psychotherapist, Richard works with high-functioning adults while also working as a consultant to organizational leaders. [You can read a detailed biography and more background on the conference in the spring Lincolnian newsletter (Volume XXXVI, Number 4, p.16)]
Which gets us to the conference itself. Richard is using his study of Lincoln’s visionary life as an inspiration for Visioning a Better America: A Citizen’s Conference in Congress, VABA in shorthand. Taking place in person in either the Cannon or Rayburn House Office Building next to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., VABA will be held October 4 through 8, 2021. Details, including a virtual option to view the conference, can be found on the organization’s website at www.visioningabetteramerica.com. On the website, Richard explains the VABA goal:
When there is no shared vision, politics becomes a fight over policies without the understanding of their overall benefit, relevancy and how they would be carried out.
Only citizens can change society. People’s ideas can change and sometimes change rapidly. A vision provides ideas to focus change and policies that lead toward a desired future. As we face new challenges, this conference will work toward a vision, based on the best in America and our founding values, to inspire action and realistic hope for a better future.
It is fitting and proper we meet in the People's House, the US Congress. Speakers will come from across the ideological spectrum. The conference will be constructive, in the words of Lincoln “with malice toward none, and charity for all” since “we are friends, we must not be enemies.”
Lincoln understood the importance of public involvement. "Public sentiment is everything," Lincoln intoned in a debate with Stephen A. Douglas, adding "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."
So many of our fellow citizens today are concerned about the divisions within our nation but don’t get beyond talking about the problem. Richard has chosen to do more than just talk about our issues - he is working toward solutions. He is using his love of history and Lincoln to bring people together and to work toward a more perfect union. Hopefully, his example will inspire others to take steps – whether big or small, simple or complex – to do likewise.
[Note: Are other Lincoln Group members developing a Lincoln-inspired event? Let us know and we’ll highlight it here on Lincolnian.org.]