Politically, I know Mr. Bush and I didn’t see eye to eye as often as I’d like, but he was a man of integrity in almost all of his political dealings (no politician’s ideal). Much of this could be attributed to his Christian faith, one that more closely resembled true Christianity than that generally practiced by the political right today.
But until the slough of eulogies came along this week, I’d never heard this mantra of his. It was expressed in a letter he wrote to his mother:
“Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your Best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course. All that kind of thing.”
In those twenty-three words lay most of God’s Truth:
- “Tell the truth.” Again, as opposed to the standard political landscape today. In fact, it was the one time he was perceived as NOT having told the truth that cost him the most politically – the time he campaigned on the promise of “No New Taxes”, but understood as he (gasp!) worked with both parties in Congress to hammer out a plan to start the nation’s recovery from the Reaganomics-caused recession that he would have to agree to a combination of taxation and budget cuts to bring the budget closer to in balance. (He didn’t lie – circumstances demanded a change of course.) Sadly, the far right held it against him and forced the party farther right in “retaliation”, a reaction that might be considered the root of the problems in DC today.
- “Don’t blame people.” Taking responsibility as well as credit is another quality unknown to most people on Capitol Hill today, and certainly to this president. But it’s the most pervasive mantra of every good leader: Share the credit; shoulder the blame.
- “Be strong.” That means more than lifting weights – it means being mentally, emotionally, and personally strong. It encompasses many of the other statements in his mantra, including…
- “Do your Best.” (I personally like the non-grammatical capitalization of “Best”. It says so much…) No matter what you do, always strive to do your best. Colossians 3:23-24 spells this out for the Christian –
We do what we do not for others, not even for our employers, but as Christians for the glory of God.
- “Try hard.” Similarly, giving full effort is part of doing your best.
- “Forgive.” If there’s a more Christian edict, I don’t know what it would be.
- “Stay the course.” Be persistent. Be steady with whatever your task is. Ninety percent of people who start projects never finish them. It’s the difference between being ordinary and becoming extraordinary.
George HW Bush was one of just 44 human beings who have ever lived who rose to the rank of President of the United States. Until very recently, that was a mark of a remarkable human being, and it still represents a great tribute to a war hero, a diplomat, and a devoted husband and father who believed that country was more important than self.
You know. All that kind of stuff.