This serious explores the question “if you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?”
I was so nervous. I had been shaking with anticipation since he responded to my invitation. I couldn’t believe what was about to happen in my 21st century, compact one-bedroom apartment. I had to get ready. There was so much to do! Cooking, cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, polishing, shining! Everything had to be perfect.
In retrospect, I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself. We’re talking about a guy who lived before electricity. I’m sure he would have been just as impressed if I had a few crumbs on the floor and just tossed a salad for dinner. He did spend a good five minutes obsessing over the “magic” of the light switch.
The table was set, the food was cooked, and my heart was pounding. What was I going to say? What should I ask him? What if he didn’t like turducken? My frantic worrying would have to wait – he had arrived. I quickly looked in the mirror, fixed my hair, took a deep breath, and opened the door.
“Mr. President, hi. It’s so nice of you to have come.”
“Generous and gracious for thou to hath offered.” He replied.
“Nothing pleases me more, Mr. Washington – “
“Please, call me George.”
Me? On a first name basis with George Washington? This experience was unreal. Not only did I get to teach him the marvels of indoor plumbing and electricity, but we got to talk about some of the most important issues facing America today.
“Do you like turducken?”
“Turducken?! Huzzah!! Nary hath tither a time exist whence man nor woman nor child could ever stand betwixt thy and a turducken dinner.”
I breathed a sigh a relief. And a slight chuckle.
“I’m glad to hear that, George. You know, turducken is John Madden’s favorite thanksgiving meal.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“John Madden.” I said, forgetting he was from a time before Xbox. “He’s famous for football. I’ll tell you about football later. The NFL could definitely use your guidance.”
We sat down to dinner, and I explained to him the complicated history of America since his passing. It got hard to explain things to an 18th century man, and around Bruce Jenner, it just got awkward. It’s safe to say that our dinner conversation didn’t fall in line with Rules for Civility and Decent Behavior. Nonetheless, I got him up to speed on things. Over dessert, I got to ask him some very important questions.
“It is often taught that you advised against political parties. Why is that?” I asked.
“They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils and modified by mutual interests.” 1
“I couldn’t agree more. We see that in Congress and in the White House. Now, with the 2016 presidential election bringing out the worst in party politics, I’m considering voting third party. People tell me it’s a waste of my vote. This election has caused good people, that are just standing up for their beliefs to lose friends. Anyone voting for another option is ostracized and mocked.”
“Fear not losing friends; ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company. You must labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.2 You must vote your conscious because human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” 3 He replied, with sympathy in his voice.
“Thank you, sir.” I said, relieved to hear what he had to say. “I know that you labored to set a precedent for how the President should act and be perceived, and I’m sorry that those that took office since have not followed suit. I long for the days of another George Washington.”
Both saddened by the idea of America being in limbo, but comforted by each other’s words, we paused and reflected on our conversation. One question sprung to both our minds.
“Where are our Men of abilities? Why do they not come forth to save their Country?” 4 We said, nearly in perfect synchronization.
“I know you wrote that of the war, but it’s entirely applicable to today’s society.” I explained.
“It seems it is.” He agreed. “We can only hope that truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.”5
I smiled and looked up from my empty dessert plate. “Then we replant the tree of liberty. Because, as a great man once said, liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” 6
His old eyes lit up.
“You’ve been talking to Mr. Madison, I gather.” He joked.
“No, but I have been studying about you.”
“Oh? And what hath thou learned thus far?” He inquired.
“Well, sir, I learned a lot about honesty and integrity. I learned about how I want the president to present himself, and the principles I want him to hold. I learned that liberty and freedom were worth fighting for. I also learned that When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered.” 2
“Well good.” He said, not totally grasping my completely 21st century sarcastic sense of humor. “It sounds as if you hath learned all the answers I have to offer. Thank you for an exquisite evening.”
“But wait –!” I said, not ready for him to leave.
When he reached the doorway, he turned and offered some fatherly advice. “Remember in tough times to allow not your heart be hardened; Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”
- George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796
- The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
- Letter to the Bishops and Clergymen of the Protestant Episcopal churches, dated August 19th, 1789
- Letter to George Mason, March 17th, 1779
- Letter to Charles Mynn Thruston, August 10th, 1794
- Letter to James Madison March 2nd, 1788