a senator, some birds, & the art of adulting

[Welcome to our annual Guest Writer Series! Meet DL, Guest Writer #2 (of 12). Over the course of my lifetime, I have learned much from GW#2… many nuggets of wisdom, such as… “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” DL has always encouraged me to love and learn from both the like and the different.…]


Books have been a passion of mine ever since I learned to read. As a child I pulled the covers over my head and used a flashlight so my mother could not see light under my door.  (Apparently that did not work because later she claimed that’s why I wear glasses.) I like many genres… Kent Krueger mysteries… especially Ordinary Grace, anything by Charles Martin, books worth re-reading…A Man Called Ove, bios like Hillbilly Elegy, or books written to identify/educate about societal issues. 

A recent read on that topic still resonates: The Vanishing American Adult by Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. Now before you quit reading because of a “Oh, no, not a politician,” wait a minute. Sasse is not a raving, blinder-wearing partisan yeller; he is a common-sense former Midwest university president who shares his observations on how to rear self-reliant kids to become mature, responsible adults instead of youth who prefer the Peter Pan syndrome. But more later.

Recently for several weeks I was privileged to observe a nature lesson. Our front porch is a covered recessed area protected from the elements. On one wall I have hung an all-season wreath. One day I discovered that a dove had chosen this as an ideal place to build her nest and lay her eggs where she and they would be sheltered and protected. Daily I observed her faithful dedication to parenting. I never saw her leave the nest, even when I stepped out to check out the situation. She just gazed at me as if sensing that I was an interested party, not an intruder, she being a grateful leaser of the porch. Then one day I saw two tiny heads peeking out from under her breast. Her faithful care continued until I saw what must have been a “now-is-the-time” moment. She flew from the nest, but perched herself on the porch so she could watch her babies peek over the nest with what must have been their “Now what?” curiosity. I imagined the faithful mama encouraging them: “It’s okay. You can do it. It is time to leave the nest, to step out and fly out into the world, to accept what nature has planned… yes, to FLY!” It seemed as if they needed that encouragement, and then one morning one of them launched out of the nest to land awkwardly on the porch. Soon the second tried the same floundering mechanics of flight, with both Mama and now Papa perched nearby, not to take over but to help them in the next phase of their maturity. They knew their role as parents.

Back to Senator Sasse…

Are you familiar with the “helicopter” parents who feel obligated to intrude in any issue of growth or the parents who sit on the bleachers to berate the coaches if their child is not a starter? I recall my own experience with a parent who demanded that her gifted high school junior not be forced to use an American history text because it depicted some less admirable aspects of our history or parents who asked me not to count a missed assignment or to excuse plagiarism. How about the parents who have bribed universities to admit their darlings regardless of merit, hence denying a qualified applicant that place in the admission process? Or how about the world of academia that refuses to have speakers whose messages may upset the apparent virgin ears of students, or youth who feel called to violent dissent because they disagree with the message? I thought college was to create opportunities for critical thinking, not coddling. 

It is not just education, but government programs and society also seem to encourage enabling, not emancipation. As a result, we have entered a new word in out vocabulary: “adulting”… a temporary role, and certainly not a permanent choice. The road to Neverland becomes the destination, instead of the road to responsible, self-discipled, achievement and work ethic that contributes to the well-being of both the individual and society. Senator Sasse not only describes this phenomenon but also suggests with a voice of reason what can negate this refusal to become a mature adult.

Mama and Papa Bird knew how to do this. Maybe we could learn from them.

P.S. You might also appreciate his newest book: Them: Why we Hate Each Other & How to Heal



socialism makes a comeback

[Welcome to our annual Guest Writer Series! Meet PJM, Guest Writer #1 (of 12). GW#1 has spent significant time in both the public and private sector. He has also been someone I have long learned from…]


Throughout his political career, Ronald Reagan would say some variant of the following:  “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

I remember Reagan saying this in the 1980’s and thinking, “Don’t worry, Ronnie, Americans aren’t going to give up their freedoms anytime soon.” Yet here we are, a little more than a generation later and a recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 42% of American adults have a positive impression of socialism. Of those age 18 to 29, the figure was 50%.

I found these statistics alarming, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Reagan was right.  Despite socialism as an economic system being thoroughly debunked with the fall of the Berlin Wall and break-up of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, we have to proactively convey those lessons to the young. It doesn’t happen automatically.

So what is socialism? The textbook definition says it is where there is “collective ownership of the means of production.” In other words, the government decides how much to make of what and how to distribute it. This is in contrast to market capitalism where there are private owners who voluntarily determine the quantities and prices of what they make and sell.

A driving force behind socialism is a desire for equality. Even within a single American city, one can find those living in large opulent homes not far from those with no home at all. The disparity does not seem fair. When Bill de Blasio says, “There’s plenty of money in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands,” he is expressing a sentiment held by many.

Setting aside the question of whether it is moral to confiscate that which legally belongs to someone else, the primary case against socialism is that it simply doesn’t work. There is not a fixed amount of wealth that can be divvied up like a pie. Wealth is expanded as producers add value by creatively generating new goods and services, incentivized by the opportunity to retain that increased wealth. Conversely, the amount of wealth contracts if producers are not able to keep the fruits of their labors. The only way to full equality is for everyone to have nothing.

Socialists ignore this trade-off when advocating for redistribution. Clearly it is better for some to have more than for everyone for have less. Arguments for socialism are always couched as choosing between Joe having two and Fred having zero, or Joe and Fred each having one. In reality, the choice is between Joe having two and Fred having zero, or Joe and Fred each having zero.

We don’t have to look back 30 years for an example of a failed socialist state. Venezuela is a modern day illustration. Prior to the election of dictator Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela was a prosperous country, albeit with uneven wealth. Under Chavez’s and his successor Nicolas Maduro’s socialist policies, the country is now an economic disaster with basic necessities running in short supply for rich and poor alike. (American socialists will suggest other factors are to blame, but are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?)

On the other hand, in the 21st century alone market capitalism has lifted nearly a billion people out of extreme poverty worldwide. Those situations in which capitalism is criticized for suboptimal outcomes are often places where the free market is not at play, in industries that are either monopolies (telecommunications), heavily regulated (education), or both (health care).  Do we have societal issues that need addressing? Of course we do, but market capitalism is the engine that provides the resources to tackle those challenges. Turning toward socialism would be like killing the goose to get to the golden eggs inside.

I am encouraged by one facet of the Pew survey mentioned above. Most (about five-eighths) of the 42% who view socialism favorably had a positive impression of capitalism as well. What this tells me is that these respondents don’t understand what socialism is. Socialism and capitalism can’t co-exist. They are polar opposites. You can only have one or the other, and only one of them works. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”



introducing our fave summer series…

In Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together, author William Isaacs pens the following:

“Dialogue… is a conversation with a center, not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our differences and channeling it toward something that has never been created before. It lifts us out of polarization and into a greater common sense, and is thereby a means for accessing the intelligence and coordinated power of groups of people.

The roots of the word ‘dialogue’ come from the Greek words ‘dia’ and ‘logos.’ Dia means ‘through’; logos translates to ‘word’ or ‘meaning.’ In essence, a dialogue is a flow of meaning. But it is more than this, too. In the most ancient meaning of the word, logos meant ‘to gather together,’ and suggested an intimate awareness of the relationships among things in the natural world. In that sense, logos may be best rendered in English as ‘relationship’…

To take it one step further, dialogue is a conversation in which people think together in relationship. Thinking together implies that you no longer take your own position as final. You relax your grip on certainty and listen to possibilities that result simply from being in relationship with others…

To listen respectfully to others, to cultivate and speak your own voice, to suspend your opinions about others — these bring out the intelligence that lives at the very center of ourselves — the intelligence that exists when we are alert of possibilities around us and thinking freshly…”

It is, no less, my absolute privilege to be the author of the Intramuralist. Eleven years ago, I never imagined the thousands who would share in this journey… the many who would consider, contemplate, read, react… agree, disagree… encourage, inform, add to the conversation.

From day one, we’ve attempted to adhere to our mantra as a “respectful dialogue of current events,” striving relentlessly, no matter how inconsistent that societal aim may be.

Remember that “dialogue” means we cede the sides. We think together and no longer take our own position as final. We never forget relationship.

I can thus think of no better manifestation of this practice than our annual Guest Writer Series. For the 11th consecutive year, it is time to hear here from someone other than me. 

Over the course of the next 6 weeks, you will hear from a dozen different people — people I admire, respect, and enjoy learning from. They are diverse in age, ethnicity, gender, religion, and more. They come from all corners of the country. You will hear from two students in college and one recent graduate. You will hear from an articulate set of grandparents. The collective group will talk about all sorts of stuff…

They will talk about maturity and vaccination.

They will talk about anger and pride.

They will talk about losing weight.

They will discuss the 2020 Presidential election.

They will vocalize both support and skepticism for climate change.

They will examine topics both big and small, from plaguing issues to practical pursuits.

But they each are committed to discuss respectfully.

Do I agree with every angle to be posted?

Of course not. But agreement is secondary to relationship. We learn much when we are willing to enter into relationship with persons who share varied perspective. We learn much when we are willing to engage in respectful dialogue.

So while I embrace my annual, much appreciated respite, I encourage you to engage with this year’s guest writers; they are expressive and articulate; they’ve got some fascinating points to consider. Feel free to agree. Disagree. Ask them questions. But most of all, let’s dialogue.

Guest writer #1 kicks us off on Sunday, starting with…

“Socialism Makes a Comeback.”

Time to listen well.



are you a racist?

It pains me to see the country’s current dialogue regarding race. Actually, “dialogue” is not an accurate characterization; it seems more a finger pointing match, accompanied by increasingly surging screaming. Yes, screaming ensures a voice is heard; however, respect and heart change are simultaneously minimized.

Wanting to do my part, so-to-speak, to contribute positively to the conversation and avoid the societal lure to join in any accusatory fray, I found myself immersed in Miles McPherson’s The Third Option…

The Third Option… 

Or subtitled: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation. 

Isn’t that the problem? The combination of finger pointing and screaming doesn’t lead to hope. It simply encourages extended blame. Who, when the target of blame, desires to change, grow, or consider any other perspective?

Miles McPherson is a biracial man born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960. He played for four years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. During this time of greatest perceived, professional success, McPherson developed a cocaine addiction that admittedly sent him into a critical, destructive decline. After a weekend binge in his second year as a pro, McPherson made the decision to turn his life around, figure the faith thing out, and he stopped doing drugs in a single day. McPherson has a powerful story to share.

In The Third Option — written by one who grew up not feeling he fit well into any ethnic grouping, as “a mixed-race kid in a segregated era of our nation’s history” —  McPherson emphatically urges resistance to the country’s current, enticing call. Society keeps trying to get us to choose “us” or “them” — as if there exist only two choices. 

There is a third. Honor. 

Writes McPherson:

“You may despise racism, but it affects us all, whether we know it or not. It is a corrupter of the soul that degrades and devalues those who look different from us. When we allow racism into our hearts and society, we minimize the priceless value of God’s image in others, which limits our ability to honor, love, and serve them the way God calls us to.

Culture plays a big role in perpetuating racism by wrongly insisting that there are only two options you can choose from: us or them. Culture pits one group of people against another by promoting a zero-sum game mentality that says, ‘You must lose in order for me to win.’ 

God, however, offers us a Third Option that stands in stark contrast to the two offered by culture. God’s Third Option invites us to honor that which we have in common, the presence of His image in every person we meet.”

The misleading, dichotomous choice that culture instead offers, attempts to lure us into what is none other than an “oversimplified” question. Simply put:

Are you a racist?

Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab or other…

Are you a racist?

Who would say “yes” to that?

The question is not that easy. It’s also not helpful. It only seems to divide us more.

The Third Option is an “elevated level of honor.” It’s a refraining from the “us vs. them” mentality and from any pointing of fingers. It’s looking inside another… acknowledging that they, too — just like me and you — were created in the image of God. 

But it starts with self… with each one of us…

Who do you need to see differently?

Who are you devaluing?

… because you don’t look like them? … think like them? … or maybe you don’t even like them?

If we could instead focus on the image of God within absolute, every other…

What a far more honorable and profitable pursuit.



equal pay

As the President of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) walked off the 2019 World Cup finals field, the supportive American crowd erupted in dueling cheers…

“USA!” “Equal pay!” “USA!” “Equal pay!”

The cheers manifested themselves in various media forms as the victorious U.S. women’s soccer team arrived home last week, as three months before the Cup, all 28 members of the women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation. Their legal complaint is described as follows: 

“The United States Soccer Federation, Inc. (“USSF”) is the single, common employer of female and male professional soccer players who play on the United States Senior Women’s National Soccer Team (“WNT”) and the United States Senior Men’s National Soccer Team (“MNT”). Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.”

According to the lawsuit, from 2013-2016 the women each earned a maximum of $4,950 per friendly, non-tournament victory compared to an average of $13,166 for the men. The fact that the women are paid less in sum is not in dispute. 

This happens not only in World Cup soccer. Note the example of professional basketball; the players’ median salaries in the WNBA are $71,635, which pales in comparison to a minimum salary of $582,180 for those in the NBA.

The unique challenge in soccer, no less, is how much this women’s team is beloved. As The Los Angeles Times recently wrote, “The U.S. women’s soccer team outperforms the men’s team when it comes to victories, domestic viewership, name recognition and general awesomeness.”

Yes. Awesomeness. 

The Times goes on to ask the question behind the cheer. “U.S. women’s soccer outperforms the men in every way possible. Why are they paid less?” 

Gender discrimination has been illegal in this country since 1963. So the more insightful question is whether the pay difference is due to discrimination. 

This year’s prize money for the women’s World Cup was $30 million across all 24 teams. That equates to 7.5% of the $400 million distributed for the 2018 men’s World Cup. In 2022 in Qatar, that number will rise to $440 million. The revenue generated globally for men’s soccer is strikingly greater than for women. The pay disparity, therefore, is directly related to the revenue disparity.

In order then to be compensated comparably, the women are arguing they should receive more, even if that money comes from the men’s play.

So is it a matter of unequal pay?

Or is it a matter of merging ethics and economics?

Perhaps the issue is best summed up in a 2016 headline from The New York Times:

“Pay Disparity in U.S. Soccer? It’s Complicated”

Not only is it complicated; it’s far more than a supportive crowd’s cheer.



the citizenship Q

I’ll admit it. Before the Supreme Court intervened, the recent wrangling regarding the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census got me thinking… I’m thinking it’s the wrong question…

[Note: The U.S. Census Bureau and Wikipedia are utilized significantly below…]

Mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, the U.S. government “counts each resident of the country, where they live on April 1, every ten years ending in zero… The goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.” The process originated 229 years ago.

“Many federal, state, local and tribal governments use census data to:

  • Decide the location of new housing and public facilities
  • Examine the demographic characteristics of communities, states, and the US
  • Plan transportation systems and roadways
  • Determine quotas and creation of police and fire precincts
  • Create localized areas for elections, schools, utilities, etc.
  • Gather population information every 10 years”

Additionally — and importantly — the data is used to apportion seats for the U.S. House of Representatives. As the population shifts, so does congressional voting power.

In specific regard to the citizenship question, its history is as follows:

  • It was standard from through 1950.
  • It was omitted for everyone but residents of NYC and Puerto Rico in 1960 for some reason.
  • In 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 — when the Census Bureau utilized both a long and short form — it was included on the long form only. 
  • In 2010, only the short form was used, so there was no question about citizenship.
  • In between the decennial counts, the Bureau utilizes the American Community Survey (ACS) — which includes a citizenship question; it’s sent to only, approximately 3% of residents.

So why the wrangling?

Opponents of the question’s inclusion argue that it will deter undocumented immigrants/illegal aliens from filling out the form; the count would then be inaccurate. Since the results are used to allocate resources for the building of schools, hospitals, roads, etc., an accurate count is necessary to receive a perceived a fair or necessary share of federal funding.

The Dept. of Justice maintains they need this question to get an accurate count of the citizen-voting-age population to enforce the Voting Rights Act; the citizen-voting-age population is a necessary metric in drawing appropriate, legal, district maps.

What this means is that in addition to the allocated federal funding, congressional redistricting — determined by the U.S. Census — is based on citizens and non-citizens combined. Remember that non-citizens cannot vote in federal elections. (“Federal law does not prohibit non-citizens from voting in state or local elections, but no state has allowed non-citizens to vote in state elections since Arkansas became the last state to outlaw non-citizen voting in 1926.”)

As for how the country feels about adding the question, in a recent Hill-HarrisX survey, 60% of registered voters said that the citizenship question should be included “even if it means fewer people might fill out the questionnaire.” 21% said the question should not. 19% were “unsure.”

So the better question that got me thinking, as expressed by a wise mentor of mine — and I’m not certain what the answer is — but…

“Should Congressional representation be determined using all population or just citizens?

It is currently all population, and the attempt to add the question would have undermined that. 

But should a state with more non-citizens get more representation in Congress, funding, etc.?

Should the state get more funding for roads, etc., but not more representation?

Not sure there is a right or wrong answer, and given the current tone of our political discourse, the side one is on is simply that which will benefit themselves.”

And therein lies the problem…

While there exist legitimate reasons for both opposition or advocacy, the current tone of our political discourse impedes our ability to ask and answer the better questions.



Kaepernick, Kavanaugh & Rapinoe… & the value of proximity

Megan Rapinoe has made news in recent weeks. While leading the U.S. women’s soccer team to victory in the illustrious 2019 FIFA World Cup, the talented co-captain protested during the National Anthem and got into a non-face-to-face, rhetorical tit for tat with the President of the United States.

Collin Kaepernick made news last week — as documented here — in his rebuke of Nike’s 4th of July shoe promotion, asserting that its design which included the “Betsy Ross Flag” was offensive due to its perceived association with an era of slavery.

Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brett Kavanaugh also made some news, as when Ginsburg sat down at Georgetown to speak about gender equality, she praised Kavanaugh, noting that this is the first time more women than men will clerk for the court — and “it’s thanks to our new justice, Justice Kavanaugh.”

(Pres. Donald Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also have made news. Granted, they each make news rather regularly.)

No doubt we each have varied reactions to all of the above. What strikes me is the location of our vantage point.

What would happen if our vantage point changed?

Look how far away we are. What would happen to our opinions if we formed them from a closer vantage point? Would there be more respect? … empathy? … understanding? Even amid any disagreement, would there be more respect? … empathy? … understanding?

Allow me, for a moment, to share a seemingly most simple example. It’s personal… but profound…

On Sunday, our church took a day to intentionally invest in our community — simply to love on the people around us in tangible, practical ways… not in ways we decided — but in ways that were shared as specifically meaningful to them.

Among the means of investment, were weeding at the Y, power-washing at a health clinic, and delivering care-packages and personal thank you’s to local emergency personnel. One place, still, stood out to me… one visited by my sweet friend and her family and more. They spent time with seniors at a nearby retirement community.

I couldn’t help but smile hearing the account of my friend’s 4½ year old son playing checkers with a lady named Ruth. He’s quite the formidable young man. I’m sure he gave Ruth a competitive run for her money. 🙂

And then there was Jeannette. She will soon be 94.

Jeannette was approached by my friend’s 7½ year old daughter. The 7½ year old had gone up to her, innocently placing her hand gently on Jeannette’s back, and gave her a small card, saying something simply along the lines of “God loves you. Have a great day!”

Jeannette absolutely lit up. She then meekly asked if she could kiss the 7½ year old on the cheek. The young girl agreed, and after the brief interaction, Jeannette began to cry. She couldn’t stop. She hadn’t kissed anyone in years.

What strikes me about this interaction, however simple it may seem, is that the differences between a 7½  and 94 year old are huge. They don’t look like each other nor act like each other, and sometimes each says what could be considered by the other as some outlandish things; from far away, they could craft all sorts of seemingly legitimate judgments about one another. As long as they stay far away, those opinions and judgments can be fully supported and fueled.

But notice what happened when the vantage point changed. Notice what happened when they got closer. Notice the impact proximity has on opinion.

While the differences clearly remain, there emerges more of a willingness to refrain from judgment when we are closer; it’s less of an attempt to eradicate the very real differences, than an allowance of increased understanding to affect the formation of one’s opinion.

I would thus absolutely love to sit down with Rapinoe, Kaepernick, Ginsburg and Kavanaugh… I’d sit, too, with Trump and Ocasio-Cortez. It’s not because I think I will become more like them or they will become more like me, but proximity makes a difference. Changing our proximity — being close enough to another to more clearly comprehend why they think, feel, act and speak as they do, allows our perspective to be more thoughtful and also accurate. 

Anyone up for a game of checkers?



looking at history through a contemporary lens…

I’ve been intrigued as of late as to how we judge things now. Specifically, there seems an increasing trend to apply filters from today to assess circumstances from before. There seems diminishing room for the allowance of the truth that “we don’t know what we don’t know” — meaning our predecessors on this planet did not know then all that we know now. And so we’re tempted to re-examine circumstances centuries old through a contemporary lens.

Is that right? Is it wrong? Does it provide an accurate perspective?

There are so many examples here — and I write this hesitantly, knowing we really won’t do the entire topic justice — but let’s quickly take note of two examples from last week, before applying the lens question further…

In Charlottesville, Virginia, the city council voted to remove Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as a local holiday. With Jefferson’s prominent place in American history in addition to being the founder of the University of Virginia, he has long been especially revered in our 10th state. He also owned large numbers of slaves and reportedly fathered children with another slave after his wife passed away. In a separate council vote, they then declared the city will instead celebrate “Liberation and Freedom Day,” marking the emancipation of the enslaved at the end of the Civil War.

Also last week, Nike, Inc. pulled a shoe from the shelves. The sneaker featured the “Betsy Ross Flag,” promoted with the 4th of July. First unveiled in 1792, this flag is one of 27 designs our country has utilized over the course of our existence, used primarily for celebrations of our nation’s birthday. It has been prominently displayed at multiple presidents’ inaugurations, including at the first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009. Nike pulled the flag at the urging of athlete/activist Colin Kaepernick, who said the design was offensive because of the flag’s perceived association with an era of slavery and with some white supremacist groups.

So how do we walk through this wisely? How do we respect and learn from history without discounting all that’s associated with history? 

Modern scholars find things now that we didn’t realize were bad then. I am pondering, therefore, if the previous lack of awareness justifies now diminishing the worth of an era, person, or person’s contributions. And then we go further…

Are we picking and choosing? Are we picking and choosing when to be offended and what we will discount and disregard?

Let’s go to another era, but still acknowledging racial sensitivity and how hurtful that has been to so many… to 1859 to be exact…

I recently came across a bewildering insight within the works of Charles Darwin. While Darwin never seemed to deny the existence of God in some way, contemporary atheists have given Darwin credit for making it possible “to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Darwin’s perceived signature work, “On the Origin of Species,” has specifically substantiated the atheistic reasoning.

The book and its concepts are taught at educational institutions across the globe. As one who believes science and faith totally go together and actually support one another, I respect and appreciate the academic banter of what may be true and what may be not.

But I wonder if those who advocate for the entirety of assertions within Darwin’s work would think the same if the book’s complete title was instead used. I wonder if it would be so widely acclaimed… or if our contemporary lens could/should again be applied…

Would that be right? Would it be wrong? Would the lens provide an accurate perspective?

The complete title of Darwin’s book is as follows:

“On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”

Darwin believed that some races were evolutionary superior.

Friends, there is so much we don’t know; this is a complex topic, and by no means is the Intramuralist an expert. More than anything, here we ask questions and encourage the always asking of more.

But when a contemporary lens magnifies the ignorance and/or foolishness of those of our predecessors, what are we to do?  

And… we must also humbly ask…

What will future generations say about us?



are we aware of Washington’s actual words?

In reading these days before the Fourth, I was once again struck by the Declaration signed 243 years ago. My search then led me to other historical gems. One of the things that always fascinates me is how words written centuries ago are still so relevant now.

I stumbled upon a new one this year. With a special shout out to my insightful history educators, note some of the wisdom found within the farewell address of none other than George Washington. This is just a mere nugget of his words and wisdom expressed 20 years after the first celebration of the Fourth. Note, no less, the poignant relevance to today… [all emphasis mine]…

“Friends and Fellow Citizens…

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth…

In contemplating the causes, which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by Geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts…

Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally… the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it…

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another…

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?…”

On this year’s Fourth, there seems an awareness that our nation’s foundational fabric is currently fraying; there is too much divisiveness. What if we, therefore, took time to focus on Washington’s words?

… that the unity of government is dear to us… that many will attempt to weaken our conviction… that parties will misrepresent the opinions and aims of others… and that religion and morality are indispensable…