Posted tagged ‘Washington’s Circle’

“If Men Were Angels…”

October 27, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          October 27, 2016


The time in American History around and after the American Revolution fascinates me. The founding fathers, often portrayed in our time as a harmonious patriotic rowing team, synchronized in all of their thoughts and actions, were often at odds with one another. There was dislike and animosity that had to be contended with. Several of them had their quirks. Alexander Hamilton, a part of George Washington’s cabinet at the age of 25, was a genius and also hard to live with. John Adams was the first Vice-President, not because he was Washington’s running mate, but rather because he finished second on the electoral votes of the United States Senate. The assortment of personalities and backgrounds made this first group of leaders resemble the diversity amongst Jesus’ disciples.

And this group had the important and difficult task of devising the government that would bring unity and direction to the new nation! They came from British backgrounds. It was what they knew, and for some the first president was to be like the English monarch. For others there was great fear that the new president would simply be another king, just like the one they had just gotten unchained from! Every legislation, every proposal was scrutinized. Even the design of the presidential residence and the Congressional building were subjects of debate. There were fears that the size of the president’s residence would convey royalty. It was not to be to big or to small. Like the chairs of the three bears, it had to be just right! The same thought went into the size of the property around the Congressional building. It needed to be at a distance from the residence and an appropriate amount of land around it. In other words, our founding fathers were just as concerned about looks as they were about principles and structure. They believed that they had to get it right the first time!

James Madison made the comment repeated often, “If men were angels there would be no need for government!”  But, of course, men were not angels and therefore there was an urgency for a government of the people by the people for the people.

It is obviously no different today than it was 230 years ago. As time has gone on the Constitution and government system of checks and balances has often been blurred by political interests and power hungry politicians. Getting our government to put all the oars in the water at the same time, rowing in the same direction, is now more of a coincidence than it is a strategy.

“If men were angels…” Well, our cynicism scoffs at that statement as we enter the last week and a half of the present election. Some of us remember that there are the heavenly hosts and there are the fallen angels, and we’re leaning towards the second type becoming a little more visible these last few months.

Sharing My Opinion

September 22, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                September 22, 2016


I received an email from Time magazine yesterday. They want my opinion on different things! They must have received a rumor that I’m opinionated and have opinions to offer on anything and everything…from the election to the price of avocados to the end of “Mike and Molly.” It’s nice to know that someone values what I’m thinking.

Sharing opinions is a risky business these days. Facebook opinions have become the Jerry Springer Show of social media. People seem to get off sharing their distorted anger, while others get even more satisfaction at telling them what pathetic losers they are…and then back to you…and then I’ll reach for an even lower comment…and then…

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus had his challengers ready to pounce. Of course, the difference is that Jesus didn’t have opinions, he had the truth. The truth got lampooned, demonized, and criticized. Jesus would have been caricatured on the editorial page every day in some cartoon drawing.

Most of us have a hard time differentiating between the truth and what is simply our opinion. In my annual eye exam my optometrist does one test where two lines gradually come together. That’s how most of us see truth and our opinion. They have become two lines of thought and understanding that we’ve brought together.

And so sharing any opinion seems to be like lighting a fuse on a conversation ready to explode. Some of us like explosions. They seem to ignite us! Others of us shake our heads in disgust and dismay.

Just think about recent opinions that divide us like New England Patriot fans versus…well, everybody else! There’s been the election, National Anthem protests prompted by recent shootings, immigration, health insurance, the cost of Epi-pens, Ryan Lochte, concussion issues in sports, and the legalization of marijuana. Wow! Time could do a couple of issues just on the issues.

And here’s the thing! In our hyper-opinionated culture the thinking seems to be that I must totally agree or totally dis-agree…that I can’t disagree 60% and agree 40%, or admit that there is some truth in the opinion that i don’t agree with. We seem to think that people have to be all in or all out!

I’ve been reading a book entitled Washington’s Circle by David and Jeanne Heidler. What  I’ve been amazed at is the opinionated founding fathers. In today’s terms we would say that they were not all on the same page. They had their opinions about issues, as well as about each other…and they seemed to be able to talk about their differences and, in most cases, come to a consensus of agreement. Perhaps a slower way of communicating helped. In many ways the speed of our interactions these days is a positive, but it has also become a liability. People don’t think before they speak or comment or send a social media post…and then let the fire begin!

A wise person longs for truth and considers the value of their words.