History Teaches So Well

I have been spending free time reading Presidential biographies for many years. I have enjoyed learning new things about past leaders like Lincoln, Washington, Bush Sr. and so many more. Lately, I have been finishing off McCollough’s excellent biography of American President John Adams, who led a fascinating life.

While there are many lessons to be learned from this account, the one that I have taken away has been how politicians of the day chose to interact. While Adams and Thomas Jefferson were known as political rivals and definitely had disagreements, they were also two people that considered each other a friend.

That type of relationship has repeated itself again and again over the course of time, including such diverse names as Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan or even a more modern example, the relationship between Bill Clinton and the man he beat, George H.W. Bush.

I believe each of these examples teach us something that we have easily forgotten in our modern approach to politics. Rather than find common ground, both sides seem to want to paint the other side as the problem while finding no way to solve the problem themselves when they have power. We have seen this on so many issues, it is difficult to narrow it down to just a couple. The overall point to be made here would be that we would not be so quick to make a villain out of someone on the other side if we knew them as a friend. Before painting them as horrible, we would find ourselves thinking, “would my friend do that?” instead of just moving forward and publicly “cancelling” them, as so many on both sides want to do. Gone would be the thought of how you can’t be friends with someone because they dared vote differently than you did in the last election.

Many that know me, know my feelings on certain issues, but they also know that I am a reasonable person that wants to listen to them, cares for them and cares more about their friendship than our differences on issues. I feel that this is the best approach. When my days are over, I fully believe that I will be more interested in who my friends are versus how I scored political points in an argument over something that doesn’t really matter to begin with. If you read the bible, there is a verse that sums up what is to come very well. It is in 1 Corinthians 13:13 which states:

…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Note that it doesn’t mention politics in that anywhere. If those three are to remain, we must act in a way that loves first and finds disagreement as an opportunity to learn rather than cancel.