Pres­i­dent Bush: Hu­mil­ity, Friend­ship & God

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPINION - Robert A. Box Chap­lain’s Per­spec­tive

Like mil­lions of peo­ple in the United States and around the world, I watched en­thralled as the funeral ser­vice un­folded in the Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral for Pres­i­dent H. W. Bush, our 41st pres­i­dent.

With five past pres­i­dents in at­ten­dance, along with count­less other dig­ni­ties, our coun­try had the rich op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness one of the most in­spir­ing funeral ser­vices ever seen on na­tional tele­vi­sion. The pro­ces­sion, the mu­sic, the words spo­ken and the eu­lo­gies height­ened what it means to be an Amer­i­can, al­though, ad­mit­tedly, it is pos­si­ble that you may have to be in an older gen­er­a­tion in or­der to truly ap­pre­ci­ate what was happening.

With­out a sin­gle po­lit­i­cal snip­pet or a neg­a­tive com­ment, lead­ers from both ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the United States joined to­gether to pro­vide noth­ing but praise for this el­der Bush states­man who, while only serv­ing one term of of­fice, did much to shape the di­rec­tion of our coun­try. His suc­cesses were right­fully up­lifted, but his fam­ily and friends did not hes­i­tate to also al­low for the fail­ures in his life and ser­vice.

My wife, a his­to­rian in her own right, ob­served that she had seen the be­gin­ning of a change in our coun­try while con­clud­ing her ten­ure as a teacher. To­day’s cul­ture is not much con­cerned about the past, about pride in coun­try, or ex­press­ing the value of dig­nity for all peo­ple. In­stead, the fo­cus is upon win­ning re­gard­less of the cost, elim­i­nat­ing those peo­ple with whom you are in dis­agree­ment, and with “what’s in it for me?” Gone are the days of stress­ing sex­ual and eth­nic equal­ity, mak­ing friends with one’s en­e­mies, and a global per­spec­tive that in­volves be­ing an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in the world’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

While not want­ing to min­i­mize the sig­nif­i­cance of the set­ting, the mu­sic, and the great thoughts that were ex­pressed (which, by the way, in­cluded the re­marks by Jon Meacham, the his­to­rian. If you haven’t read his book “The Soul of Amer­ica,” you’re be­hind times), there were three words that came to mind as I watched and lis­tened: hu­mil­ity, friend­ship and God.

You don’t hear much about hu­mil­ity these days. Af­ter all, who wants to be “put down” by ad­mit­ting that he or she might not be per­fect, es­pe­cially if you hap­pen to be the pres­i­dent of the strong­est na­tion in the world? You don’t hear peo­ple in power say­ing, “I’m sorry,” “I made a mis­take,” and ac­cept­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ure. But here in a funeral, up­lift­ing one of the truly great men of our time, it was never con­sid­ered a sign of weak­ness nor poor lead­er­ship. In­stead, it was the mark of some­one who was not afraid to ad­mit his hu­man­ity and his lim­ited abil­ity to both know and to do ev­ery­thing cor­rectly. A lit­tle hu­mil­ity goes a long way in get­ting votes and re­spect in the po­lit­i­cal arena, even to­day.

But one of the strong­est words I heard count­less times in­volved friend­ship.

Brit Hume, a com­men­ta­tor for Fox News, de­scribed it this way: “When I wrote that Tiger Woods could learn a lot if he ac­cepted Christ, I got blis­tered by peo­ple all over Amer­ica; but Pres­i­dent Bush sent me a per­sonal note which said, ‘Way to Go, Brit. You’re right on tar­get.’” Friends en­cour­age one an­other; they build one an­other up, not tear each other down. Why not have friends across the po­lit­i­cal aisle with peo­ple you don’t agree with and even don’t like, even with peo­ple you have never met be­fore? One of the high­est praises for Pres­i­dent H.W. Bush has to be that “he was a friend.”

Last, but cer­tainly not least, I can­not re­mem­ber so many ref­er­ences to God on tele­vi­sion in any show, news­cast, po­lit­i­cal ob­ser­vance or na­tional hol­i­day as that wit­nessed at Pres­i­dent H.W. Bush’s funeral ser­vice. The set­ting, Bi­ble read­ings, mu­sic, ref­er­ences to the Almighty and ex­pressed hope in the fu­ture all shouted to a stunned na­tion that we are still “a na­tion un­der God,” that the ef­forts to re­move our re­li­gious ed­i­fices, to elim­i­nate ref­er­ences to God in our prayers and in­vo­ca­tions and to min­i­mize the role of the church in Amer­ica have all failed. There re­ally is a God and, even af­ter death, Pres­i­dent H.W. Bush called out for us to re­mem­ber our roots and our faith in the Almighty. Giv­ing “lip ser­vice” to God is not the same as the cry­ing out of hearts need­ing to feel the pres­ence of God dur­ing dif­fi­cult times. We ar­gue and ha­rangue about peo­ple who refuse to ac­knowl­edge our coun­try dur­ing the play­ing of our na­tional an­them and “take a knee” in­stead of stand­ing at at­ten­tion, but I long for the strength of Godly peo­ple who are not afraid to “take the knee” be­fore the Almighty God and to ask for His for­give­ness, strength and wis­dom.

Thank you, Mr. Pres­i­dent, for call­ing our na­tion back to its roots in God.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.