Over the past couple of years, I have undertaken a project. I have begun to read books on US presidents with the hope of reading a book about each one. I’m making good progress and learning quite a bit about US history, leadership and how our nation has been shaped, positively and negatively, by those who have achieved our highest elected office.
Recently, I have begun to read David McCollough’s book on John Adams. I debated whether to read this book since I had seen the television series which was based on the book but decided, as a proud Bostonian, that I had to read it and I am finding it fascinating.
The other day, I found these words written by Adams in the days before the Declaration of Independence. It is, I believe, a critical quotation for these times:
“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.”
Noise, not sense…meanness not greatness…ignorance not learning…contracted hearts not large souls.
As we watch the news and read the papers, Adams’ words speak to us today.