A Word from George

This is a quote from George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796, after he had refused a third term.  It was published in every newspaper in the country.  This is only a section I thought relevant to now, as election hysteria causes us once more to wrongly believe this is THE worst situation our nation has ever faced, that our politics right now is a matter of GOOD vs. EVIL, and when we cannot agree which is which, and a time in which we cannot bear the past unless we either gloss over its truth and exchange it for a myth of our own construction or see nothing worthwhile that comes from our imperfect ancestors.

“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

Before you pronounce “what the forefathers thought” or what they based our nation upon, you might want to read what they actually wrote.

Once while I was reading on “pilgrimage” I came upon an  Interesting article by Urban Holmes from many years ago about the nature of the story of America to leave the past behind and move on.  If he is right, in these times when the world is “falling apart” for the umpteenth time, our greatest danger is not the present threats but our anxious longing for a secure past that never existed.

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Gary Furr

Gary is a musician, writer and Christian minister living in Alabama.

One thought on “A Word from George”

  1. Wow – Talk about a “voice from the past!”

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