This past weekend I started watching the HBO series, John Adams, a docu-drama that begins in 1770 and focuses on the events leading up to our independence, the founding fathers and the formation of the Continental Congress. There were several striking insights worth sharing as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week.As the circumstances with the British occupation of the colonies began to deteriorate, more and more people stepped forward to show their dissent. Initially, there was some naiveté about the consequences that might result. But slowly, it began to dawn on everyone – as the violence escalated – that to be on the side of freedom was to risk the charge of treason and death by hanging. There were so many justifiable reasons to back down: rampant small pox, starvation, a poorly equipped militia, and a fractured group of representatives from the thirteen colonies who initially couldn’t seem to agree on anything. Watching the early episodes of John Adams made me very aware of the sacrifice made for our freedom – a sacrifice that has been repeated in every generation since then. I have a tendency to take it for granted when I shouldn’t.
The second thing that struck me was the incredible effort it took for the representatives of the Continental Congress to reach agreement on anything. Each man was adamant about representing the needs of his particular colony: what was important to Massachusetts was of no relevance to those from Virginia or Delaware. However, as they continued to work together, recognizing each other’s strengths, understanding that the good of the whole was so often much more important than the good of a part or piece, and believing in a common goal, the self-interests began to disappear and a unified vision was formed. Most importantly, they didn’t give up on each other; they persevered with determination for our freedom. Sometimes, I want results quickly and need to be reminded that important things take time.
So we come to Thanksgiving 2010 reflecting on that early history and faced with our own economic turmoil, and I recall a quote from John Kennedy, “We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” When did I last choose to do something because it was hard?
I’m very thankful for the exceptional leaders throughout history – Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, our Founding Fathers and Mothers, and countless others – who chose to do what was right, even though it was hard. Leaders who sometimes stood absolutely alone in the firm belief that the principle they stood for was right.
In the midst of turkey, family, and football this Thursday, I encourage you to take a moment to thank those who throughout history have risked so much – for us.