The Wisdom of John Adams

The horrid events in Arizona are the talk of the Sunday morning news shows. We all pray for Gabrielle Giffords and her family and for all Americans and do hope that it may be the moment when we look for a new way to work together where we can have honest disagreements with others without having to demonize or destroy them.

I’m reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams and I have new found respect for this great American leader. I find myself marking the pages with quotes and ideas that are still relevant today. He would have been very sad about the state of civility in our country because respect was essential for a successful government:

We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy. God grant they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain an influence by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls…There is one thing, my dear sir, that must be attempted and most sacredly observed or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect, and veneration introduced for persons of authority of every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is our only way.

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