The Ideal Whereunto Mankind Slowly Draws Near

I take back everything I ever said about transcendentalism being boring. I’m not taking back anything I ever said about Bronson Alcott or Ralph Waldo Emerson — those guys are boring, boring, boring. It doesn’t necessarily mean they had the wrong idea.

Far less boring, I find, is the transcendentalist, abolitionist preacher Theodore Parker who delivered sermons in Boston that were written down and published and made their way to a lawyer in Illinois named William Herndon who passed them on to his partner Abraham Lincoln.

Ulike many other reverends, he didn’t split from his church, despite its racism, because he saw it as it could be:

“By Christianity, I mean that form of religion which consists of piety — the love of God and morality — the keeping of His laws. That is not the Christianity of the Christian church, nor of any sect. It is the ideal religion which the human race has been groping for.”

When William Lloyd Garrison burned the US Constitution because it’s a racist document, and it is, on its face, Theodore Parker endorsed our form of government, imperfect tho it was, because it was leading inexorably toward pure democracy:

“This is not the democracy of the parties, but it is that ideal government, the reign of righteousness, the kingdom of justice, which all noble hearts long for, and labor to produce, the ideal whereunto mankind slowly draws near.”

With respect to ending slavery in America, Parker believed in the philosophy of “Blossoms in March, buds in May, apples in September.” And his teachings helped bring it about. He was Lincoln’s favorite author.

In 1949, in Los Angeles, California, a motorcyle patrolman walked into a bar called the Cock and Bull and asked, “Which one of you is Lefty Lazar? This is for you. I suggest you read it.” He left an envelope on bar which foreshadowed Americans and Russians in space together, as well as the famous interracial kiss on national television.

The highway patrolman was Gene Roddenberry, the producer of Star Trek, whose vision, I believe, really helped shape the world once Lefty Lazar helped him get it on TV.

If you want to see Russians and Americans in space, just look skyward. And if you want to see interracial kisses, just look around you. They are the hope of the world. We can all become one race, and it’s easier than you might think.

For me the message is that if you have a vision that you believe in, it might take a course that you don’t expect, but you should stick to it. There are so many rivers and streams that all flow into the same great ocean.

Theofore Parker saw the “bossoms in March” and the “buds in May,” but died in 1860 so he didn’t see the apples in September. But I’m confident he knew they were coming and I have no doubt he will rest in peace, with the thanks of a grateful nation.