Looking to George Washington for Inspiration by Craig Fuller

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Our uniquely American July 4th holiday provides an opportunity to reflect on our freedoms and liberties. However, I must confess that this year I feel kind of a bittersweet sensation as families and friends take time to celebrate the freedoms secured by individuals who left their native countries to find a better life here in America. It is appropriate to commemorate those who saw the courage to pursue their dreams that became America, yet how ironic we celebrate while policies of our government separate children from families and detain them for mustering that same kind of courage in pursuit of a dream for a better life.

While no easy answer is likely to present itself, perhaps the words of American children to those being held that “we are a better country” and “you are not alone” will be sufficient to move our elected officials to find a more compassionate and, yes, a more American approach to immigration than what we have in place today.

Thinking about this Fourth of July, I searched for an inspiring topic and found one in an unusual place, The Washington Post.

Now, I don’t mean to be critical of the newspaper, but it’s just not a place where a lot of inspiring ideas come from these days. However, a piece caught my eye about how our first President had lived by 110 Rules of Civility and Decency. It caused me to pause and wonder what better way to reflect on our freedoms and liberties this July 4th than to turn to one of our founding fathers for inspiration.

Rather than just use the Rules selected by the Post’s writer, I decided to look at the entire list and check out the story…kind of a “trust but verify” moment.

It turns out that a young George Washington actually wrote out all 110 Rules as a handwriting lesson. The rules he copied were based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.

“Fake News,” you say….well, maybe. But, a close reading of the story doesn’t say Washington composed the rules, only that he wrote them down and lived by them. Hard to fact check that one.

Regardless, I think the fact that people thought enough about civility and decency in the late 1500s to write out 110 Rules might be something to pay attention to today.

So, as we celebrate our freedom and liberty this week, let’s reflect on how we might all benefit from a good deal more civility and decency in the world today….and, let’s hope our first President might inspire other leaders just a bit!

You will find the list of 110 Rules in their entirety by clicking on RULES. The list is provided by the Foundations Magazine.

The following is a sampling offered in modern day English:

Treat everyone with respect.

Be considerate of others. Do not embarrass others.

Don’t draw attention to yourself.

When you speak, be concise.

Do not argue with your superior. Submit your ideas with humility.

When a person does their best and fails, do not criticize him.

When you must give advice or criticism, consider the timing, whether it should be given in public or private, the manner and above all be gentle.

If you are corrected, take it without argument. If you were wrongly judged, correct it later.

Do not make fun of anything important to others.

If you criticize someone else of something, make sure you are not guilty of it yourself.

Actions speak louder than words.

Wishing you a very safe and happy July 4th!

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Letters to Editor

  1. Richard Skinner says:

    Amen.

  2. Richard Carroll says:

    Mr. Fuller—Thanks. I feel the need to say no more. And a belated Happy 4th to you….

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