Lincoln, Darwin, Zoe and me…

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February 12th has become a special day for me, but not necessarily for the reasons you might expect.

lincolnAbraham Lincoln, our 16th President was born 200 years ago today. He is perhaps the most remarkable of all of our leaders, presiding over a nation split by the wound of slavery. He was also a tremendous orator, his speeches succinct and written with a rhythm and cadence reminiscent of poetry.

Lincoln was also our first Republican president, helping found the party… but I don’t hold it against him. We need more Republicans in the vein of Lincoln… and Democrats too.

As a kid growing up in Chicago I knew very little about Lincoln, other than always getting the day off from school, which I thought was pretty cool. But lately my interest in Lincoln has grown, thanks in part to our new President, Barack Obama.

While the parallels between Lincoln and Obama have been well documented, the most striking for me is their gift for language, using it to inspire and show a way forward though the most difficult of times.

That is why I celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday today.

Lincoln happens to be in very good company today. Another famous historical figure was also born on February 12th 1809: Charles Darwin, the man behind the theory of evolution.

darwinI’ve taken a keen interest in Darwin of late thanks to my growing disillusionment with organized religion. Though I have long considered myself agnostic, witnessing the hypocrisy, greed, and out-right hate over the last several months has fueled my latent atheism and distrust of all things religious. Its steady and relentless assault on science, placing mankind’s fate in the hands of some invisible omnipotent being instead of repeatable and observable evidence, has put us all at risk. Delays in stemcell research. The growing movement to the teach creationism and Intelligent Design in schools. The delay in our acknowledgment of and response to global warming. These are just a few of the symptoms.

So for me Darwin is a symbol of reason in this sea of mysticism and superstition that threatens to drown all us all. His theory of evolution survives despite being under constant assault. Only 39% of Americans believe in evolution, which to me is both astonishing and scary. But they do believe in a talking snake.

That is why I celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday today.

zoeOur Zoe celebrates her birthday today too… Number four. So who is this Zoe? Well she’s our cat. Four of our years roughly translates to 32 in cat years. Wow. I had no idea she that old until just now. Wow.

A beautiful ragdoll with a diva complex, she has added so much balance and love to our lives. I remember her first day home, lying on the floor next to her until she felt safe enough to cuddle up next to me. And then we both fell asleep. Later I woke up with crook in my neck and Zoe on my belly, purring like a little steam train.

I don’t know if we will ever have children. But for now Zoe is enough. Any latent paternal instinct, and I mean LATENT, seems to be is satisfied. She has brought me and Chad closer together, as someone to care for often does.

That is why I celebrate Zoe’s birthday today.

And oh yeah, I almost forgot… it’s my birthday too… I’m 42. Ack!

Frankly the number 42 makes me a little nervous, as that’s how old my namesake (Elvis Presley) was when he kicked the bucket and shuffled off his mortal coil. I guess as long as I don’t keel over in the john, I should be fine 🙂

So now I am going to celebrate my birthday by taking a few days off… there maybe be a post or two, but it’s not likely. I wish all of you a safe and relaxing President’s day weekend.

Post by ILO on 02/12/09 at 12:07 pm