I recently had lunch with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. For your benefit, I recorded the conversation.
I recently had lunch with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. For your benefit, I recorded the conversation. My comments are in italics. W, F and J stand for Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, respectively. Thanks for bending the laws of time, space and believable narrative to be here today. It’s a real honor to sit down with each of you. I can’t wait to get your comments on how America has changed since you three helped found it.
Jefferson - “We are in America? I thought you took us on a fantastic journey to some land where fitness and intelligence were no longer desirable traits.”
Franklin - “I believe my good friend is a bit wound up. You see, ever since arriving, he’s been alarmed at the state of things. Then again, he always was a bit of a fussy prig.”
Jefferson - “Oh, like you’re OK with any of this Ben? Look at what they did with this place!”
Washington - “Gentlemen, please. There’s no need to argue. What’s done is done.”
President Jefferson, you seem the most agitated. Let’s start with you. Why are you so concerned?
J - “Where to begin? Look at your schools. Look at your cities. Look at yourselves. Had I known what you people were going to do with the country we suffered, bled and died to create, I may as well have replaced the words on the Declaration of Independence with the menu to one of the eateries you all frequent - perhaps that “Hamburger Monarch” establishment.”
You mean Burger King?
J - “Whatever. The location is not important. What is important is that the citizenry seem to care more about trivialities than what is truly important. For example, this country now has an unhealthy obsession with how your leaders appear rather than what they can do. Should it matter how often they attend church compared to how they attend to public business? I was president for two terms and I rewrote the Bible in my spare time. Then, it was seen as an interesting intellectual accomplishment. Now, not only would I never be elected, I would most likely be burned at the stake!”
So what is important?
J - “You must focus on the essentials. The state of education is deplorable, yet all you do is focus on how much money should be spent on it. You never take any time to see what needs to be taught. Of course money should be spent. How else will you get qualified tutors? However, as a child, I was well-schooled in Latin, Greek, French, rhetoric, metaphysics, mathematics and philosophy. I knew not only the ‘how’ of things, but took time to explore the ‘why’ as well. Do you think I pulled the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom out of thin air? We were well-read, well-tested and well-attuned to the times. Can the same be said for those currently inhabiting the capitol? I think not.”
Mr. Franklin, let’s turn to you. Do you share President Jefferson’s unease about the current state of America?
F- “Perhaps not as drastically. I spent more time around the common folk than Thomas here, and I can see they are still a decent, hard-working and industrious people. In their own way, they are just as concerned about the state of things as he is. I find this second Tea Party a delightful and encouraging phenomenon, although I wish they would become aquatinted with all our work, and not just the selections they enjoy or agree with the most.”
But, still, you have some reservations?
F - “Well, of course. In my day, news was of vital concern and many awaited the arrival of the post rider or the publication of the daily press. One had to work to get information, so it was of high value. However, now, with so many wondrous ways to stay informed, I cannot fathom why opinion is valued more than fact, and how deeply uninformed some of this opinion is. As much as I approve of any group of Americans coming together, such as this new Tea Party, they must be armed with something other than the ramblings of those with the loudest voice. There is much to be concerned about, and they are right to express that concern, but without a sensible argument and being possessed of the spirit of wisdom and compromise, it is just a mob.”
President Washington, out of the three of you, you seem the most at ease regarding things.
W - “I don’t know if ‘at ease’ are the right words. I am concerned, but I have a different perspective.”
W - “Well, I led the Army through some dark, dark days. We were beaten constantly early in the war. We froze at Valley Forge. I watched one of my most trusted generals betray me to the enemy. There were times I honestly thought all would be lost. Yet, we survived, we were victorious and we created a nation that has endured and thrived for nearly 235 years. In all that time, that nation has not succumbed to tyranny, has not completely turned its back on liberty and, when the occasion demands it, the citizenry has risen to meet every challenge demanded of it. We worried over foreign entanglements. We had politicians that were more interested in promoting themselves than the good of the people. We debated about money. Your concerns today are not much different than ours so long ago. Every generation has its own challenges. Your challenge is whether or not to give in to hysteria, it seems. I’ve seen things that truly warranted such behavior, and the current situation, most assuredly, does not demand it.”
We’re about out of time here because I see our fantastic, magical time-hole thingy starting to close. What words would you pass on then to your political inheritors?
W - “I think I speak for all three of us when I advise everyone to be attentive to the affairs of this nation. We designed it for you, not some separate ruling class. However, we aren’t Gods and our word is not infallible truth. Thomas and I kept slaves, and that’s unquestionably wrong. We made mistakes, and thankfully you corrected them. But, it’s your country now. We trust all of you to continue our work. We had faith in the people then, and we keep that faith today. All we ask is that you keep faith with our ideas and not lose hope.”