Words of Hope: Presidents Day

My dad LOVED reading biographies and one of his favorites was John Adams by David McCollough. He includes letters Adams shared with his wife Abigail full of such tenderness, commitment to God, and some of the most beautiful relational records available to read. Several years ago, a show came out about this book and the actor who played John Adams ruined it for me. He played him in a peevish, irritating manner without honor or courage. His letters to his wife were expressed as whiny and pathetic, delivered in a nasal, irritating manner. 

One-sided depictions of people are one of the sorrows of life for me. I grieve that the miracle of people can be used as propaganda on either side, each group inflating the goodness of their heroes and the wickedness of their enemies. Perhaps John Adams was peevish at times, but he also wrote some of the most moving letters to his wife on record.  

We played Scattergories recently and the category was heroes. Someone wrote the Red Baron to which most responded in ire, “He was a villain!” However, the person who wrote it googled “Red Baron hero” and sure enough the Red Baron was indeed “worshipped as a hero in Germany.” A villain for the U.K. and the United States, but a hero from a different point of view.  

In truth, the Red Baron was on the wrong side of justice. Though revered as a hero, history points out, he was incredibly daring, brave, and courageous. He fought for policies and practices that were misguided and dangerous.  

How do we get to the truth of our dialogues around our heroes and villains? At the center of the problem lies our inability to hold both the good and the bad to be discussed fairly and levelheadedly. Without this crucible, there is no truth or decision making. We wade through the slog of irrational vitriol and hatred slung from both sides trying to malign and attack the other. We have lost our ability to reason together in our desire to win our point of view. Reason requires the faculty of the mind through which we can logically come to rational conclusions.  

I hope on this Presidents Day as we begin heading toward elections, we can move toward reason, especially in how we label our “heroes” and our “villains.”  

The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, but the foolishness of [shortsighted] fools is deceit. – Proverbs 14:8