the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings

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Council of Presidents

Latest book on my reading shelf is Council of Dad’s, Bruce Feiler.  I liked his advice that he believed ex-presidents (and one preacher) would give to his daughters as they grow up:

1. GEORGE WASHINGTON
Honesty is the best policy
When he stepped down from the presidency in 1797, George Washington never actually delivered his Farewell Address.  Instead, he published it as a letter to “The People of the United States.”  The speech is remembered for introducing the tradition of two terms for the president, warning against party squabbling, and advising against entangling alliances.  But it’s most quoted line refers to personal conduct.  “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.”
2. THOMAS JEFFERSON
Question with boldness
On August 10, 1787, while in Paris, Jefferson wrote a letter to his nephew Peter Carr.  He advised in favor of studying Spanish (and against Italian).  He advocated reading philosophy to improve conduct.  And he wrote this about religion: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
3. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Avoid extremes
When he was 22 years old, Franklin wrote out thirteen virtues that he vowed to observe every day.  He even typed up a chart and made a check besides each virtue he followed.  The exercise lasted just under a month.  Still, the virtues capture the essence of the American character he embodied.  1) TEMPERANCE – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.  2) RESOLUTION – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.  3) MODERATION – Avoid extremes.
4. JOHN ADAMS
Dare to read, think, speak, and write
A decade before the Revolution, while a young lawyer in Boston, Adams wrote a series of articles about the beating heart of liberty in America.  Later published as a book, the articles summoned Americans to let their minds lead them to freedom.  “Let us become attentive to the grounds and principles of government …  Let us study the law of nature … Let us tenderly and kindly cherish the means of knowledge.  Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”
5. GEORGE WHITEFIELD
Fight the good fight of faith
In a sermon on Ecclesiastes called “The Folly and Danger of Not Being Righteous Enough,” George Whitefield, the great Revolutionary champion of the Great Awakening, echoed Joshua as he conquered the Promised Land.  “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.”

What can I add to this? – list is now my maxim to live by…..

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