March 10th, 2008

The Sacrifice to Serve


photo credit: disoriented1969

Active participation in politics stems from a myriad of reasons. Those who run for an office might do so for any number of reasons: to gain power, to dethrone an incumbent, to advance the cause of liberty, to promote an agenda, etc.

For some, the reasons might be clouded, combined, or contrived. While an aspiring politician may claim to have the desire to simply serve his fellow man, deep down he may desire power and fame, 0a nice pay check, relative job security, or a comfortable pension. For what may very well be a select few, the sacrifice to serve stems from a sincere desire to effect positive change and contribute to the nation which has provided them such bounteous opportunities.

It is hard to judge who these people are. One must sift through the propaganda, doublespeak, and rhetoric. Those who sacrifice their time, talents, and resources to truly serve others know who they are. These are the people, however, who would be humble enough to disregard praise and honor, and instead simply move forward in their drive to serve their constituents and honor the oath they made upon assuming office.

I wish we had more of these people: honest, without guile, noble, humble, and charitable. With Congress earning record low approval ratings, it seems that we need, more so than ever before, statesmen who will set aside personal preference and priorities to serve their fellow man and fill government posts with honor. We need such moral leaders who will not abuse their authority and become a law unto themselves. We need leaders with integrity who lead by example.

The sacrifice to serve is one that we should all cultivate, in whatever sphere we may feel called upon to enter. Be it politics, church, community, or otherwise, the direction our society takes depends upon us.

To those who serve with dignity and justice, I thank you.

32 Responses to “The Sacrifice to Serve”

  1. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 3:01 am #

    Connor,

    You are living in a dream world if you think you will have those kinds of individuals today. A George Washington would not taint himself by attempting to lead today. A John Adams would work in the background on policy rather than be the actual politician. You are living in a completely different world Connor. “Statesmen?” They do not exist today. Not even Ron Paul. He had to pander to racists to get where he got. He is tainted. There are none like the kind of men you seek Connor. None whatsoever. Once you come to that realization, you might be able to start being productive in our political world today, Connor. I know you have your sights set upon participating in political leadership. You have to realize that you will not get very far until you know how the system works and who you must make deals with. If you do not, you will not be able to influence the world towards the direction you desire, except from the sidelines.

  2. Connor
    March 11, 2008 at 7:01 am #

    Dan,

    You are one deluded individual. And oh so optimistic!

  3. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 7:43 am #

    No Connor, I am a realist. I want to see things get done. And in today’s world, this is how you get things done. I don’t sacrifice my principles, but I do not expect a politician to adhere to his.

  4. Yin
    March 11, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    Dan,

    I’m sorry, but that is the saddest, most pessimistic statement I have heard in a long time. How devoid of hope, values, and standards. I absolutely contest that we should never allow our political expectations to sink to the level of which you are speaking. You talk of someone only being able to accomplish things if they settle into the role which government tells us is the standard today. How strongly I disagree! A person is not being true to themselves, or what they believe, by doing so. I think they can do the most good by firmly standing their ground. Even if it goes unnoticed by the masses. “By small and simple things…”

    I certainly hope that there still exists those individuals which Connor described in this post, and that they are still striving to improve our goverment and our country in an honorable way.

    You don’t expect a politician to adhere to his principles? Maybe you should start.

  5. Connor
    March 11, 2008 at 7:55 am #

    Dan,

    I realize that you’re still reeling over the recent exposé of your governor’s immoral hypocrisy, but that does not give you sanction, nor a firm footing, to cast aspersions at every single other elected leader.

    I will agree with you that most politicians are morally bankrupt and self-serving to some degree. That is why I said, in my post, that the number of good, honest, and wise elected men may very well be few in number.

    Don’t pretend to know the hearts of all those holding office.

  6. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 8:06 am #

    Connor,

    I’ve paid attention to politics for longer than you have, and I have studied it as my degree. To reach the top, the pinnacle in this world today, you have to sacrifice something you hold dear. Competing interests will force you to if you wish to continue this further. You and Yin can bemoan all you want about how cynical and sad and pessimistic my assessment is, but that’s how it is.

  7. Connor
    March 11, 2008 at 8:08 am #

    Ah, the erudite and experienced student of political science has pronounced his indictment upon the world.

    So let it be written, so let it be done.

  8. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 8:12 am #

    And if I may add, the Founding Fathers were no different. Just take a look at Jefferson’s quite treasonous relationship with the French as Vice President, and all his attempts to undermine John Adams’ presidency. Why did he do it? Is he a “statesman?” And, continuing on with Jefferson, did he not have relationships with his slaves outside his marriage? And George Washington. A slave owner. Very moral of him. I think out of the Founding Fathers, probably John Adams was the most morally sound. And look at how he got hammered by those around him. He eeked out only a one term (which he would not have today). I could go down the list, but I think I made my point. There are no “good, honest, and wise elected men” in the world today. They are all flawed. It is a matter of the degree of their flaws that is now in question.

  9. Cameron
    March 11, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    Dan,

    You write,

    “You have to realize that you will not get very far until you know how the system works and who you must make deals with. If you do not, you will not be able to influence the world towards the direction you desire, except from the sidelines.”

    That sounds so much like Hillary Clinton I wonder if you’re her speech writer.

  10. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    Cameron,

    I am not her speech writer.

  11. Cameron
    March 11, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Uh oh. Are you a Clinton supporter, Dan? Is that why you think it’s ok for your politicians to “work the system” and “make deals” with who knows who so that they can “influence the world”? Makes sense.

  12. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    Cameron,

    Actually I voted for Barack Obama in the primary and hope he wins the nomination and ultimately the presidency. You seem to not read my comments very carefully. I say that I don’t expect politicians to keep their promises, words, or standards. However, if there is a candidate that supports the things I support, I will support him or her.

    If Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, I will gladly support her only to bring an end to the destructive Republican reign over our great country.

  13. Sean
    March 11, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    I am confident that so long as we have more politicians than statesmen, we shall have problems. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Be Positive,” Young Single Adult Fireside, BYU Marriott Center, March 6, 1994.)

    Dan, I think I understand what you’re trying to say. But I find it pessimistic too. There are varying degrees of statesmanship, and I think what the Lord expects of us is to do the best we can with what we know. The more statesmenlike our elected officials are, the better we can expect our society to be. To me, that’s realistic, principled, and hopeful.

  14. Jeff Thayne
    March 11, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    I agree, Connor.

    In response to Dan, I think it’s sad that people try to demonize the founders of our nation. Often, the motivation behind this is to lesson our regard for the constitution. George Caffentzis, a socialist of the University of Southern Maine, said, “There is no better way [to reach our goals] than to go through that Constitution and show its roots in racism, sexism, classism, genocide, and slavery.” By doing so, we will be more easily persuaded of the weaknesses of a decentralized government and the strengths of socialism.

  15. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    Demonize the founders? If they committed sins and treasonous acts, that’s not demonizing them. That’s simply telling the truth dude.

    Thomas Jefferson committed treason against America as Vice President.

  16. Curtis
    March 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Kakistocracy: Government under the control of a nation’s worst or least-qualified citizens.

  17. Jeff Thayne
    March 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    Also, Dan, there is ZERO conclusive evidence that Jefferson had relations outside of marriage with slaves. Careful examination of that research shows it to be shoddy, inconclusive, and politically motivated.

    “The conclusion of most of the Scholars Commission [the commission dedicated to investigating that research] was that ‘the Jefferson-Hemings allegation is by no means proven’; those members’ individual conclusions ranged from ‘serious skepticism about the charge’ to ‘a conviction that it is almost certainly false.'”

  18. Curtis
    March 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    I’d have to say that the vast majority of our politicians are corrupt to one level or another. The D&C teaches us that: D&C 121:39

    We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    According to this scripture, almost all men in government, and in any other position of authority, are corrupt. Now, is the Lord (or is it the Prophet speaking here? I get a little mixed up here) just being pessimistic? No, he’s teaching us a truth. It should be no surprise to us then that almost all of our government are card-holding members of the Gadianton Society.

    I’ve studied our government for a while now and I can come to no other conclusion. Perhaps Ron Paul is an untainted and principled man in the midst of a bunch of slime, but there are precious few like him.

    Dan is right in that you have to please certain elements in order to get any place in government. If, for example, you decry Israel’s sins, you will never slip through the Israeli lobby’s influence. Have you not noticed that declaring yourself a huge friend of Israel is a prerequisite to get into office on a national level in this country?

    Corporate influence is also huge in this country. Corporations own news media. If you speak against the sacrosanct corporation, you will not get anywhere in politics in this country.

    The list goes on. The sword is hanging over us. We need to bring these works of darkness to light or we’re in deep doodoo.

  19. Connor
    March 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    Dan,

    Your attempt to disparage the character of the Founders by repeating weak accusations is downright laughable.

    The alleged Jefferson affair is based on the account of a yellow journalist named James T. Callendar, who in 1802 spread the allegation that Jefferson had slave Sally Hemmings as his concubine. Upon this scandalmonger’s accusation have modern revisionists attempted to destroy Jefferson’s sexual morality.

    Regarding Washington owning slaves, this is yet another attempt to attack an issue while suppressing context. Your accusation must be reconciled with Washington’s own words, when he declared:

    I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of [slavery]. (George Washington, Writings, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 407-8)

    I believe that you hold an erroneous belief if you feel that a statesman must be perfect. To be sure, humans make mistakes. Even those who claim to consistently act on principle fall short at times. Being good, honest, and wise doesn’t so much mean that we always embody these traits, but that we continually strive to do so in every way possible.

    Curtis,

    I’d have to say that the vast majority of our politicians are corrupt to one level or another. The D&C teaches us that…

    As you note, the scripture says that “almost all men” exercise unrighteous dominion. The logical conclusion, then, is that this does not apply to every single person who is granted power.

    Your other points are dead on. I would argue that with strong, popular support, there are cases where a principled individual can excel and retain an elected position. In Ron Paul’s congressional election, he won with 70% of the vote, even though his opponent was highly favored and promoted by local media, outside donors, and other politicians. The same happened when the boys club actively tried to defeat Paul in the mid 90s.

    Wicked, conspiring men do not always succeed, nor will they for much longer. It’s nice to know who wins in the end, isn’t it?

  20. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    Connor,

    I’m not repeating weak accusations in an attempt to disparage the founding fathers. In fact, I previously held Jefferson in high regard. But after what he did as Vice President, my opinion of him has diminished greatly.

    During the Quasi War with the French (under which time John Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts), Thomas Jefferson worked with the French to undermine Adams. In other words, Thomas Jefferson worked with the enemy of the United States in war to undermine the president of the United States! That’s treason today. This is quite verifiable, Connor. I don’t care as much about his relationships with his slaves, but his actions as Vice President were unconscionable.

  21. Curtis
    March 11, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    Amidst the founding father bashing, whether deserved or not, I appreciate that John Adams has escaped untouched thus far. In my geneology records he is my great, great…… grandfather! Touch him and the gloves come off!

  22. Connor
    March 11, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    Dan,

    But after what he did as Vice President, my opinion of him has diminished greatly.

    You’re going to have to lay down sources and “verifiable” information if you want anybody to believe what you’re asserting about Jefferson and his actions as VP. Simply saying that it happened that way doesn’t support your claims and findings.

    I don’t care as much about his relationships with his slaves…

    Of course you don’t, now that your claims were shown to be false.

  23. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    Connor,

    Of course you don’t, now that your claims were shown to be false.

    Not at all. I just don’t care to go down that road. But I will if you press me on it. You can read the following citation if you want:

    Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings
    Pearl M. Graham
    The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 46, No. 2. (Apr., 1961), pp. 89-103.
    Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-2992%28196104%2946%3A2%3C89%3ATJASH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q

    I also recommend this one:

    Jefferson’s Rationalizations
    Andrew Burstein
    The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 57, No. 1. (Jan., 2000), pp. 183-197.
    Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0043-5597%28200001%293%3A57%3A1%3C183%3AJR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-K

    As to the treasonous relationship with the French…

    You can begin with this entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica

    http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-61880/Thomas-Jefferson

    Serving as vice president during the Adams presidency (1797–1801), Jefferson worked behind the scenes to undermine Adams’s efforts to sustain strict neutrality and blamed the outbreak of the “quasi-war” with France in 1797–98 on what he called “our American Anglophiles” rather than the French Directory. His foreign-policy vision was resolutely moralistic and highly ideological, dominated by a dichotomous view of England as a corrupt and degenerate engine of despotism and France as the enlightened wave of the future.

    David McCullough expands on this in his excellent biography of John Adams. I don’t have the book on hand, or I would quote you relevant sections. Basically, John Adams, as the president of the country, decided to run on a policy of strict neutrality. See, he understood the importance of keeping good relations with the British. The ideological Jefferson wanted nothing to do with England and rather wished the United States had closer relations with the French. He worked to undermine Adams’ numerous foreign policy endeavors at keeping neutrality (something a nascent country like the United States needed as it grew up), which led to the XYZ Affair and the Quasi War with France. Clearly Jefferson should never have been Adams’ VP as the two did not share the same ideology or party. Though they did end up being friends again to their deaths, these incidents as President and Vice President ruptured their friendship for a while.

    If you want the quotes from David McCullough’s book, you’re going to have to wait. I don’t have it on me.

  24. Connor
    March 11, 2008 at 5:24 pm #

    I have McCullough’s book in front of me right now. One of the relevant parts he writes about this story says:

    The truth, it happens, was that Adams and Jefferson both wanted peace with France and each was working to attain that objective, though in their decidedly different ways.

    You seem to throw around the word “treason” quite loosely. Jefferson’s advising the French chargé d’ affaires that he go into (and drag out) negotiations is hardly a high crime or misdemeanor. Nor was France our enemy at the time.

    This, however, is all besides the point. In a post where I thank those that serve with honor, you throw around in the mud the names of great men who have worked wonders for the cause of liberty in our day—men who, it should be noted, were worthy to appear before President Woodruff and demand their temple work be performed.

    Perfectly applicable are the words of our late prophet:

    Like those famous people mentioned, many of our forebears and those who built the foundations of this land were imperfect. They were human. They doubtless made mistakes and fell short from time to time. But the mistakes were minor when compared with the marvelous work they accomplished. To highlight the mistakes of a person and gloss over the greater good is to draw a caricature. Caricatures are amusing, but they are often ugly and dishonest. A man may have a wart on his cheek and still have a face of beauty and strength, but if the wart is emphasized unduly in relation to his other features, the portrait is lacking in integrity.

    There was only one perfect man who ever walked the earth. The Lord uses imperfect people—you and me—to build strong societies. If some of us occasionally stumble, or if our characters may have been slightly flawed in one way or another, the wonder is the greater that we accomplish so much. (Gordon B. Hinckley, via Quoty)

  25. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    Like I said, Connor, you’re going to have to wait until I get to work tomorrow and pull up the book before I can quote you the relevant sections. But I can already guess that you will not be satisfied and you’ll find some way to justify his actions, as treasonous as they were.

  26. Doug Bayless
    March 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    My fear is that a lot of people enter politics for the right reasons — even serve periods of time as “statesman” with all the dignity and justice you salute, Connor, but that they lose their way.

    On a side note, I don’t see a need to debate the purity of the founding fathers.

    If statesman of their mettle aren’t a decent measuring stick then we might as well all give up, but I actually agree with Dan (and you [Connor] and President Hinckley [where he notes that only the Savior was perfect]) that they probably all had faults if we root around long enough in their long terms of public service. And tragically I think the historical record is clear that — whatever their personal feelings might have been [though that certainly matters to me] — many of our founding fathers compromised quite starkly on the issue of slavery. The original draft of the Declaration of Independence had an important section blaming the King for expanding the unconscionable slave trade for example, but it was excised in amoral/immoral political expediency.

    Nevertheless, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, lots of these . . . remain giants in my eyes because of the great good that they did manage to accomplish, the great sacrifices each made, and the knowledge I have of their many public letters, diaries, speeches, etc. that indicate to me great hearts and minds less tainted (in my opinion) than many of today’s politicians.

    In today’s world, there are lots of people who serve humbly, graciously, and with “dignity and justice”. I am grateful each time I interact with people like that who remind me of the divine goodness inherent in everyone who cares to “put off the natural man”. But in public politics, successful entrants seem to either change [and compromise more than they ever planned] (as some commentators have perhaps pessimistically but realistically reminded us) or get discouraged and either quit altogether or at least disappear out of the limelight.

    With the power that corrupt political action committees, think tanks, media conglomerates, and corporations wield in today’s environment — it’s pretty discouraging.

    My hope is that the internet is beginning to make a difference. I see blogs like this one in the same light as Thomas Paines’ pamphleteering. :] Maybe there will be statesman of greater fidelity yet. We just need to open the door a bit.

  27. Cameron
    March 12, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    Doug, you realize that Thomas Paine hated religion right? :-)

  28. Doug Bayless
    March 12, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    Lol. No, I don’t much about Thomas Paine except that I thought he was the “Common Sense” guy who published a bunch of influential pamphlets that got people thinking and talking. Guess I’ll have to go read up on him.

    Regardless of Paine’s larger beliefs, I find it both fascinating and inspiring that small groups of thinkers could publish their thoughts and help get so much moving. Historically, that kind of thing does indeed seem to happen from time to time and that fact keeps me from completely giving up hope on the direction our nation has taken. :]

  29. brother #3
    March 13, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    Dan,
    I am just curious what you do for a living? You seem to have tons of time to defend yourself against everyone else here… don’t you have any other more important things to do?

  30. brother #3
    March 13, 2008 at 6:25 pm #

    Ah, after a little digging I have found my answer.
    (http://thegooddemocrat.wordpress.com/about/)

    “I hope that we get our country back from the brink of extreme politics we’ve seen these past seven years.”

    and you really believe Obama can do that? Interesting…

  31. Dan
    March 14, 2008 at 3:54 am #

    brother #3,

    I am an electronic resources librarian. My work is all web-related.

    And yes, I believe Obama can bring the country back from the extreme politics we’ve seen. Ron Paul certainly won’t. He’ll take us even further to the right, into a truly whacked world.

  32. Jeff Thayne
    March 14, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    I am grateful to any politician/statesman who has the self-restraint to honor a respect the constitution. I read a story recently about a statesman just like this:

    “In the early 1800’s Congress was considering a bill to appropriate tax dollars for the widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in support of this bill. It seemed that everyone in the House favored it. The Speaker of the House was just about to put the question to a vote, when Davy Crockett, famous frontiersman and then Congressman from Tennessee, rose to his feet.

    ‘Mr. Speaker, I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity, but as members of Congress we have no right to so appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Sir, this is no debt. We cannot without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.'”

    This story tells me that there have been and that there can be statesman with that kind of restraint, who place honesty and respect for the constitution over special interest groups, if WE will have the courage to elect them.

    Sorry Dan, I cannot support a man who, in the name of compassion, wants to use tax money to subsidize everything from health care to gas bills. Obama does not have the restraint required in a statesman, nor a solid understanding of the constitution.

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