Restraint June 23,2005
Paul Simon, in his book, Healing America, wrote."Within our nation and communities, (restraint) is frequently exercised and expected." p 52
He also writes "George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and other early leaders who led the fight for our independence from Great Britain urged citizens in the newly independent United States to respect and exercise restraint with those who had been British Sympathizers. Benjamin Franklin and John Jay were particularly helpful." p 53
Simon writes that the temptation to take revenge upon such persons was great. The leaders of the new nation did not succumb and this resulted in a difficult but peaceful transition toward a national government. He cites such behavior in other instances where, following elections and other decision making actions, persons have commended their opponents for their positions. Others have declined to call for recounts or for new elections where the vote was close and have congratulated their opponent on a victory. This practice is peacemaking and strength giving to the unity of our land.
We need to practice restraint these days. We need to respect the deeds and words of those who oppose us and find ways to do deeds and speak words that demonstrate that respect. To say that another way: there is a need to hear the ideas of others and refrain from judging their actions.
The restraint of the Founding Fathers resulted in a slow and painful development of laws and elected bodies. The Bill of Rights was taken seriously from the beginning. The easy route of demanding specific structures and practices was not taken. Instead the structures and practices were allowed to grow as part of the political life of the land. This produced good things, but it required patience and respect - and a restraint of the temptation to take revenge or use force to gain support.
The discussions and argument of those early days while slow and painful were better than expressed anger in the form of wars or persecution by force.
I am not referring to the positions of others nor am I writing about their lack of restraint. I am writing about us, you and me. I believe that the making of a world at peace rests in willingness to hear what is being said and to find disagreements acceptable. I believe that in a give and take society that takes the time to work with a world that does not speak with one voice, nor act in one way. This I know, a democratic society requires a membership that finds itself in variation of thought. It begins with me - and with you.
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