On Jan. 20, President Biden called for an end to the uncivil war of words that have pitted the fellow citizens of our country against each other. His words echoed the pleas of President Lincoln, who, upon his reelection, spoke to a nation still divided by the Civil War. In that second inaugural address, Lincoln pled for the citizens of his time to bind up the nation’s wounds with malice toward none and charity for all.


Scott G. Woolstenhulme

Four years earlier, President Lincoln had also called for unity, as our nation was being torn apart by those who would choose to secede rather than accept the results of a contested and controversial presidential election. Speaking to his dissatisfied fellow countrymen, President Lincoln appealed to the better angels of our human nature and pled for them to no longer be enemies but friends. Acknowledging that passions had strained the bonds of friendship and citizenship, he prayed they would not be broken. But Lincoln’s pleas for peace went unheeded, and our country descended into civil war.

Today we too must decide how we will answer our president’s call for unity and peace. Will we turn deaf ears to his pleas, just as the antebellum secessionists turned theirs to President Lincoln? Their refusal to accept the results of the 1860 election plunged our country into a civil war that nearly ended our union. Or will we heed the calls of our presidents, past and present, to let the better angels of our nature prevail? Will we individually and collectively do our part to end an uncivil war?

Regardless of whether we cast our vote for Trump or Biden or did not vote at all, our civic responsibility now is to live up to the words we pledge to our flag and to our country: to create a republic indivisible even by our own differences and disagreements. Let us as citizens answer the clarion call to form a more perfect union and not let us as man divide asunder what God has joined together: one nation, under him, the United States of America.

Scott Woolstenhulme is the superintendent of Bonneville Joint School District 93.